Direct-acting antiviral treatment for chronic hepatitis C in people who use drugs in a real-world setting

Authors Kanellos Rafail Koustenis, Olga Anagnostou, Hariklia Kranidioti, Sofia Vasileiadi, Pinelopi Antonakaki, Evangelia Koutli, Paris Pantsas, Melanie Deutsch, Spilios Manolakopoulos.


Background Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) offer high cure rates in people who inject drugs (PWID) with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. There are concerns regarding lower response rates among PWID in real life. We evaluated the outcome of DAA therapy in PWID in a real-world setting and the factors that affect it.

Methods We performed a retrospective analysis of 174 PWID with chronic hepatitis C who started DAAs in a Greek liver clinic in collaboration with an addiction program. Patients who did not return for reassessment were considered as lost to follow up (LTFU). A logistic regression model was used to assess factors associated with a sustained virological response 12 weeks after treatment completion (SVR12) and LTFU.

Results Patients’ mean age was 48±9.2 years and 91/174 (52.3%) were attending opioid substitution treatment programs. Overall, 144/174 (82.8%) patients completed therapy and presented for SVR12 testing, 8/174 (4.6%) did not complete treatment and 22/174 (12.6%) were LTFU. Overall SVR12 was 79.9% (139/174). For those with an available SVR12 test the response rate reached 96.5% (139/144). Regression analysis did not indicate any significant association between patient characteristics and SVR12. Age <45 years and genotype 3 were independent predictors of LTFU. Parallel use was found to have a trend towards LTFU.

Conclusions HCV treatment by hepatologists and addiction specialists is feasible, effective and safe in a real-world setting. However, as 12% of patients appear to be LTFU, more emphasis should be placed on interventions guaranteeing follow up for SVR testing and general care.

Keywords Direct-acting antivirals, hepatitis C virus infection, people who inject drugs, sustained virological response, lost to follow up

Ann Gastroenterol 2020; 33 (2): 195-201

Original Articles