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J Infect Dis. 2011 Jul 1;204(1):74-83. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir196.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions to prevent hepatitis C virus infection in people who inject drugs.

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  • 1New York University College of Nursing, NY, USA. hh50@nyu.edu



High rates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission are found in samples of people who inject drugs (PWID) throughout the world. The objective of this paper was to meta-analyze the effects of risk-reduction interventions on HCV seroconversion and identify the most effective intervention types.


We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies. Eligible studies reported on the association between participation in interventions intended to reduce unsafe drug injection and HCV seroconversion in samples of PWID.


The meta-analysis included 26 eligible studies of behavioral interventions, substance-use treatment, syringe access, syringe disinfection, and multicomponent interventions. Interventions using multiple combined strategies reduced risk of seroconversion by 75% (pooled relative risk, .25; 95% confidence interval, .07-.83). Effects of single-method interventions ranged from .6 to 1.6.


Interventions using strategies that combined substance-use treatment and support for safe injection were most effective at reducing HCV seroconversion. Determining the effective dose and combination of interventions for specific subgroups of PWID is a research priority. However, our meta-analysis shows that HCV infection can be prevented in PWID.

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