INTRODUCTION/OBJECTIVES: The incidence of hepatitis C (HCV) infection is rising among people who inject drugs (PWID). Even in the context of known HCV prevention and treatment strategies, some PWID remain unengaged in HCV care. This study aimed to identify and characterize experiences and perceptions of PWID regarding the acceptability and effectiveness of HCV testing and treatment at a local syringe service program (SSP).
METHODS: A total of 36 PWID participated in semi-structured interviews at an SSP in New York City. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded by three coders, following a constructivist grounded theory approach. Relevant themes were identified as they emerged from the data.
RESULTS: Interviews with PWID revealed three themes related to the impact of SSPs on HCV care: (1) non-stigmatizing SSP environments, (2) the role of SSPs in improving HCV knowledge, and (3) acceptability of SSPs as sites for HCV care among PWID.
DISCUSSION: This paper contributes to the ongoing understanding that SSPs provide a well-accepted source of HCV services for PWID. Participants believed that SSPs are accessible and effective sites for HCV care, and suggested that stigma among PWID continues to affect receipt of HCV care in traditional settings.
CONCLUSIONS: Understanding attitudes and beliefs of PWID regarding the effectiveness of SSPs as sites for HCV care is crucial for the development of focused strategies to reduce HCV transmission, and to ultimately achieve HCV elimination. Given this, further research is warranted investigating how best to improve HCV care at harm reduction sites such as SSPs.
Acceptability and effectiveness of hepatitis C care at syringe service programs for people who inject drugs in New York City
Substance Use and Misuse, 56 (5), 728-737. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2021.1892142. PMCID: PMC8514132.