Author: Holeksa J, Magel T, Thiam A, Truong D, Chu L, Yung R, Conway B

Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2019

Background: A major barrier to the achievement of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) elimination is the consistent
incidence of new infections, particularly among people who inject/use drugs. In addition to issues of
inadequate diagnosis and linkage to care, this may relate to imperfect knowledge about risk behaviours
leading to infection. To assess this, we conducted a knowledge evaluation program among individuals
from an inner-city population with high rates of ongoing injection drug use and HCV infection.
Methods: This study was conducted within the context of a weekly HCV outreach testing and linkage to
care program held at community centres in Vancouver. Within a broader demographic questionnaire,
we specifically interrogated HCV transmission risk behavior, curability, willingness to receive treatment,
and perceived barriers to treatment initiation.
Results: Between 04/17-04/18, 668 individuals completed the questionnaire: mean age 48 years, 27%
female, 52% Caucasian, 27% Indigenous, 43% unstably housed/homeless, 61% reported ongoing/recent
drug use, 27% HCV+. 21%/60%/19% identified all/some/no HCV transmission risk behaviours correctly,
respectively. Only 60% were aware of a cure for HCV, however 87% reported willingness to receive
treatment if needed. The most frequent barriers to care were perceived lack of access to treatment,
perceived high cost of treatment, and fear of side effects, each being identified by 18-20% of
individuals. Correlates of incorrect knowledge about transmission and curability included lower levels of
educational attainment and self reported Indigenous ethnicity.
Conclusion: Among key populations, education campaigns to reduce high risk behaviors may have an
impact on HCV transmission. Additional measures to improve knowledge about the curability of HCV
and to publicize the universal access to safe, effective HCV treatment at no cost to the patient (such as is
the case in our setting) may help support efforts focused on engagement in care, particularly in subgroups we have identified as lacking such knowledge.
JH – Travel grants from AbbVie
TM – Nothing to disclose
AT – Travel grants from AbbVie
DT – Honoraria from Merck & Co.
LC – Nothing to disclose
RY – Nothing to disclose
BC – Grants, honoraria, travel funding, and advisory board positions with AbbVie, Merck & Co, Gilead
Sciences, and ViiV.

Download abstract Download Poster