Can antiviral therapy for hepatitis C reduce the prevalence of HCV among injecting drug user populations? a modeling analysis of its prevention utility

Natasha K Martin, Peter Vickerman, Graham R. Foster, Sharon Hutchinson, David J. Goldberg, Matthew Hickman

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176 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis C virus antiviral treatment is effective for individual patients, but few active injecting drug users are treated. We considered the utility of antiviral treatment for primary prevention of hepatitis C.
A hepatitis C transmission model amongst injecting drug users was developed, incorporating treatment (62.5% average sustained viral response) with no retreatment after initial treatment failure, potential re-infection for those cured, equal genotype setting (genotype 1: genotype 2/3) and no immunity. In addition, we examined scenarios with varied treatment response rates, immunity, or retreatment of treatment failures.
In the baseline scenario, annually treating 10 infections per 1000 injecting drug users results in a relative decrease in hepatitis C prevalence over 10 years of 31%, 13% or 7% for baseline (untreated endemic chronic infection) prevalences of 20%, 40% or 60%, respectively. Sensitivity analyses show that: including the potential for immunity has minimal effect on the predictions; prevalence reductions remain even if SVR is assumed to be 25% lower among active IDU then current evidence suggests; retreatment of treatment failures does not alter the short-term (<5 year) projections, but does increase treatment gains within 20 years; hepatitis C free life years gained from treating active injecting drug users are projected to be higher than from treating non-injecting drug users for prevalences below 60%.
Despite the possibility of re-infection, modest rates of hepatitis C treatment amongst active injecting drug users could effectively reduce transmission. Evaluating and extending strategies to treat hepatitis C among active injectors is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1144
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Issue number6
Early online date22 Oct 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • treatment
  • mathematical model
  • HCV
  • IDU

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