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Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Apr 15;40 Suppl 5:S276-85.

Overcoming barriers to prevention, care, and treatment of hepatitis C in illicit drug users.

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  • 1Center for the Study of Hepatitis C, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York, USA.


Injection drug use accounts for most of the incident infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States and other developed countries. HCV infection is a complex and challenging medical condition in injection drug users (IDUs). Elements of care for hepatitis C in illicit drug users include prevention counseling and education; screening for transmission risk behavior; testing for HCV and human immunodeficiency virus infection; vaccination against hepatitis A and B viruses; evaluation for comorbidities; coordination of substance-abuse treatment services, psychiatric care, and social support; evaluation of liver disease; and interferon-based treatment for HCV infection. Caring for patients who use illicit drugs presents challenges to the health-care team that require patience, experience, and an understanding of the dynamics of substance use and addiction. Nonetheless, programs are successfully integrating hepatitis C care for IDUs into health-care settings, including primary care, methadone treatment and other substance-abuse treatment programs, infectious disease clinics, and clinics in correctional facilities.

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