Psychoeducation improves hepatitis C virus treatment during opioid substitution therapy: a controlled, prospective multicenter trial

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Hepatitis C
  • Humans
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Middle Aged
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Ribavirin
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load
  • Young Adult
  • BACKGROUND: People who inject drugs (PWID) have a high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, PWID are considered "difficult to treat," requiring a specifically adapted treatment setting, including psychosocial support.

    METHODS: In this prospective, German trial, the impact of psychoeducation (PE) on retention and sustained virologic response (SVR) during HCV therapy among PWID was evaluated. We included 198 patients in opiate substitution therapy, who fulfilled indications for antiviral treatment. All patients received pegylated interferon alfa-2a and ribavirin therapy. Patients in the intervention group (n = 82) received manualized PE sessions.

    RESULTS: In patients with HCV genotype 1 or 4 (GT 1/4), PE was associated with increased treatment completion (76% vs 55%, P = .038), whereas PE had no such effect among GT 2/3 patients, who showed fewer dropouts and higher SVR rates. Among GT 1/4 patients, a minimum of 5 PE sessions was associated with increased SVR (71% vs 48%, P = .037). Multivariate regression analyses confirmed the impact of PE in GT 1/4 and revealed further predictors for retention and SVR, such as preexisting mental distress and adverse events.

    CONCLUSIONS: In patients with a higher risk of dropout due to GT 1/4 or mental distress, PE was shown to improve retention and SVR. PE is an effective supportive intervention for HCV therapy among PWID.

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