HCV treatment and people who inject drugs

Sometimes, people who inject drugs can have difficulty getting HCV treatment. 

This is even though current guidelines recommend that people who inject drugs (PWID) should be treated for HCV.

Both injection and non-injection drug users have successfully used HIV and HCV treatment. This shows that concerns about adherence should not be a barrier to treatment.

So far, there is not much information with DAAs. However, a trial in people who were actively using drugs during their HCV treatment found that adherence and cure rates were similar to those of non-users.

The following suggestions may make it easier to access treatment.

  • Try not to miss medical appointments. Some doctors will use this as part of the criteria for not treating your HCV.
  • Do not avoid medical care just because you are using drugs. This is especially important while you are on HCV treatment, because your doctor will need to monitor and treat your side effects.
  • Find a doctor who is willing and able to work with drug users and who will treat your HCV.
  • Ask other drug users to recommend a doctor – or to steer you away from one. This can be a good place to start.
  • Discuss with your doctor how side effects of HCV treatment will be managed.
  • If you are still injecting drugs, ask your doctor or local syringe exchange programme for information on safer injection.

This will lower your risk of HCV reinfection (and other infections).

Last updated: 17 August 2017.