Awareness of Biologically Confirmed HCV Among a Community Residing Sample of Drug Users in Baltimore City
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- Whitehead, N.E., Hearn, L.E., Marsiske, M. et al. J Community Health (2014) 39: 487. doi:10.1007/s10900-013-9782-x
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The present study sought to examine: (1) the prevalence and correlates of biologically confirmed Hepatitis C (HCV) and (2) the prevalence and correlates of prior HCV diagnosis and an unmet need for HCV treatment, among a community residing sample of drug users. The current study used a subset of HCV tested participants from the larger NEURO-HIV Epidemiologic Study from Baltimore, Maryland (Mage = 34.81, SD = 9.25; 46 % female). All participants were tested for HCV at baseline. Self-report was used to assess awareness of an HCV diagnosis and participation in treatment. Of the 782 participants tested for HCV, 19 % reported having received an HCV diagnosis in the past while 48 % tested positive for HCV. Only 6 % reported having received treatment for any form of hepatitis. Of those who tested HCV positive, 63 % reported never being diagnosed, and only 13 % received any treatment for HCV. We found that only 35 % of those who reported a prior HCV diagnosis received any treatment. The findings regarding lack of HCV awareness and diagnosis were considerable as expected. These deficits suggest that there are numerous gaps in patients’ knowledge and beliefs regarding HCV that may interfere at multiple steps along the path from diagnosis to treatment. This study clearly demonstrates that a critical need exists to improve public knowledge of HCV risk factors, the need for testing, and the availability of effective treatment.