Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2022
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a global health burden, with most infections found among people who
inject drugs (PWID). While Direct Acting Antivirals (DAA) treatment now offers a speedy (8-12 weeks)
and effective (95%) HCV cure, patient reported long term outcomes require greater understanding.
Most research to date is based on short follow-up periods (<12 months) and lack focus on DAA
treatment. We report on patients’ perspectives on their quality of life up to 24 months after
treatment with DDAs.
We conducted a qualitative study with 30 patients who had been cured of HCV, with a mean followup time of 18 months. Most interviewees were male, older (36-55 years), and were treated in urban
community-based needle and syringe exchanges in, Tayside, Scotland. All interviews were semistructured, conducted over the phone, and analysed thematically.
Most interviewees reported positive recovery outcomes including improved physical and mental
health, increased social contacts, motivation to stay drug free, and engage with social and
healthcare services. One third of interviewees, however, reported poor quality of life post recovery
from HCV. Some lost contact with their drug using social networks and became isolated. Poor
mental health and lack of contact with services were commonly reported. Many sought help from
services however found this challenging to navigate.
Whilst DAA treatment of HCV is successful in the short-term, long-term recovery from substance use
undoubtedly compromises these gains. Greater effort is required to address the long-term issues of
social isolation and lack of services that strengthen ‘social’ recovery in the community. These could
comprise access to local recovery groups and gateway services to improve life chances such as
better housing, further education, and where appropriate employment opportunities.
Disclosure of Interest Statement: None.