Injection Drug Users with Hepatitis C Fail To Exhibit ‘Safer Drug Use’ Practices Following Educational Counseling, Study Says
Injection drug users with hepatitis C do not follow "safer drug use" recommendations after receiving educational counseling about drug behavior, according to a study published in the Oct. 1 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, Reuters Health reports. Danielle Ompad of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues interviewed 46 HCV-positive injection drug users and 60 "similar" injection drug users who were HCV-negative or were unaware of their HCV status. Both groups were given educational counseling about drug behaviors at the beginning of the study and again six months later. The researchers reported that there were no "significant differences" in drug use behaviors between the two groups following the counseling sessions (Reuters Health, 10/9). Both groups of injection drug users continued to share syringes and needles, according to the study (Ompad et al., Clinical Infectious Diseases, 10/1). Fewer than 20% of the study participants reduced their level of sharing of injection paraphernalia, according to the study. The researchers suggest that "risk reduction counseling is of limited benefit" and that routine counseling about safer drug use practices "may not be enough" to change injection drug use behaviors that could potentially spread hepatitis C (Reuters Health, 10/9). "These findings ... highlight the urgent need for post-HCV test guidelines and behavioral interventions to reduce ongoing high-risk behavior that perpetuates the risk of HCV transmission," the authors conclude (Clinical Infectious Diseases, 10/1).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.