Publications & Reports

Acceptability and preferences of point-of-care finger-stick whole-blood and venepuncture hepatitis C virus testing among people who inject drugs in Australia.

Bajis S, Maher L, Treloar C, Hajarizadeh B, Lamoury FMJ, Mowat Y, Schulz M, Marshall AD, Cunningham EB, Cock V, Ezard N, Gorton C, Hayllar J, Smith J, Whelan M, Martinello M, Applegate TL, Dore GJ, Grebely J; LiveRLife Study Group
The Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Electronic address: [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Uptake of hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing remains inadequate globally. Simplified point-of-care tests should enhance HCV diagnosis and elimination. We aimed to assess the acceptability of finger-stick and venepuncture HCV RNA testing among people who inject drugs (PWID). METHODS: Participants were enrolled in an observational cohort study with recruitment at 13 sites between June 2016 and February 2018. Capillary whole-blood collected by finger-stick and plasma collected by venepuncture were performed for Xpert(®) HCV viral load testing. Participants completed a questionnaire on acceptability of, and preferences for, blood collection methods. RESULTS: Among 565 participants (mean age, 44 years; 69% male), 64% reported injecting drugs in the last month, and 63% were receiving opioid substitution treatment. Eighty three percent reported that finger-stick testing was very acceptable. Overall, 65% of participants preferred finger-stick over venepuncture testing, with 61% of these preferring to receive results in 60 min. The most common reason for preferring finger-stick over venepuncture testing was it was quick (62%) followed by venous access difficulties (21%). The main reasons for preferring venepuncture over finger-stick testing were that it was quick (61%) and accurate (29%). Females were more likely to prefer finger-stick testing than males (adjusted OR 1.96; 95% CI 1.30, 2.99; p = 0.002). Among people with recent (previous month) injecting drug use, Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people were less likely than non-Aboriginal people to prefer finger-stick testing (adjusted OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.34, 0.9; p = 0.033). CONCLUSIONS: Finger-stick whole-blood collection is acceptable to people who inject drugs, with males and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people with recent injecting drug use less likely to prefer finger-stick testing. Further research is needed to evaluate interventions integrating simplified point-of-care HCV testing to engage people in care in a single-visit, thereby facilitating HCV treatment scale-up.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: The International Journal on Drug Policy
  • Published: 25/10/2018
  • Volume: 61
  • Pagination: 23-30

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