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Does informing people who inject drugs of their hepatitis C status influence their injecting behaviour? Analysis of the Networks II study.

Aspinall EJ, Weir A, Sacks-Davis R, Spelman T, Grebely J, Higgs P, Hutchinson SJ, Hellard ME

  • Journal The International journal on drug policy

  • Published 08 Sep 2013

  • Volume 25

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 179-82

  • DOI 10.1016/j.drugpo.2013.08.005


People who inject drugs (PWID) are at risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is plausible that PWID who receive a diagnosis of HCV will reduce their injecting risk out of concern for their injecting partners, although evidence for this is currently limited. The aim of this study was to investigate whether informing PWID of their HCV diagnosis was associated with a change in injecting behaviour.

Prospective, longitudinal study of PWID recruited from street drug markets across Melbourne, Australia. Interviews and HCV testing were conducted at 3-monthly intervals. The association between receiving a diagnosis of HCV and (i) injecting frequency and (ii) injecting equipment borrowing, was examined using generalized estimating equations (GEE) analysis.

Thirty-five individuals received a diagnosis of HCV during the study period. Receiving a diagnosis of HCV was associated with a decrease of 0.35 injections per month (p=0.046) but there was no change in injecting equipment borrowing (p=0.750).

A small reduction in injecting frequency was observed in PWID who received a diagnosis of HCV. This finding should be investigated further in larger studies examining a wider range of injecting risk behaviours.