Effect on HCV Treatment Among People Who Inject Drugs During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Data From a Expertized Hepatology Clinic in Northern Greece (Thessaloniki)

Author: Effrosyni Tsirogianni Polina Agorastou Theodora Oikonomou Ioanna Papagiouvani Kalia Rodosthenous Aikaterini Parisaki Savvoula Savvidou Ioannis Goulis

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2022

Despite the very difficult period due to COVID-19 pandemic, the effort to eliminate HCV
infection is still an important goal, especially in people who inject drugs (PWIDs). The aim of
this study was to investigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on HCV treatment in PWIDs
who visited our expertized hepatology clinic in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Data collected from March 2020 to January 2022 (COVID period, duration 23 months) were
compared with those from April 2018 to February 2020 (non-COVID period, duration 23
During the non-COVID period, 257 PWIDs (89.4% men, mean age 45.19) initiated HCV
treatment with DAAs. 206/257 (80.16%) reported access to addiction programs. 236/257
(91.83%) completed treatment. 172/236 (72.88%) were tested for Sustain Virological
Response (SVR12). 161/172 (93.6%) achieved it.
During the COVID period, 129 patients (men 88.37%, mean age 42.85) initiated treatment with
DAAs. 82/129 (63.57%) reported access to addiction programs. 110/129 (85.27%) completed
treatment. 83/110 had completed treatment by September 2021 and were able to be tested
for SVR12. 52/83 (62.65%) were tested for SVR12. 50/52 (96.15%) achieved it.
Comparing the two periods, there was a significant reduction in PWIDs who initiated HCV
treatment in the COVID period (129vs256). Treatment completion (85.27%vs 91.83%) as well
as testing for SVR12 (62.65% vs72.88%) was slightly lower in the COVID period, while
successful outcome was almost equal in the two periods (96.15% vs93.6%). During the COVID
period, fewer patients were enrolled in addiction programs (63.57% vs 80.16%).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, initiation of HCV treatment was negatively affected in PWIDs.
Nevertheless, a sufficient number completed therapy and were tested for treatment
outcome. Reduced access to both hospital and addiction services could explain the reduced
number of PWIDs initiating HCV treatment during the COVID period. More efforts need to be
made for HCV elimination.
Disclosure of Interest Statement
Nothing to disclose.

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