Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C in Injecting Drug Users: 5 Years’ Follow-UpDalgard O.a · Bjøro K.b · Hellum K.c · Myrvang B.d · Skaug K.e · Gutigard B.e · Bell H.a
aDepartments of Medicine, Aker University Hospital, bNational Hospital, cAkershus Central Hospital, Nordbyhagen, dUniversity Hospital of Ullevål and eDepartment of Virology, National Institute of Health, Oslo, Norway
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Aim of the Study: To assess the long-term hepatitis C (HCV) treatment outcome in former injecting drug users (IDUs). Materials and Methods: A long-term follow-up of 27 former IDUs who had been successfully treated for chronic hepatitis C was performed. These patients represented all IDUs who had obtained a sustained virological response in a Norwegian HCV treatment trial. The patients had been treated with interferon-α alone or in combination with ribavirin. At 5 years’ follow-up the 27 IDUs were retested for HCV RNA and risk behaviour for HCV transmission after treatment was assessed. In the control group all 18 non-IDUs who had obtained a sustained virological response in the same treatment trial were included. Results: At follow-up 13–82 months (median 64) after the end of treatment only one case of probable reinfection was seen among the 27 IUDs. No reoccurrence of HCV was observed in the control group. The IDU who was HCV RNA positive at follow-up had continued injecting drugs and reported frequent needle sharing. At follow-up HCV of genotype 1a was detected in contrast to genotype 1b before treatment indicating that this patient was reinfected with HCV. A return to injecting drug use occurred in 9 (33%) of 27 IDUs. Conclusion: The long-term outcome of HCV treatment in former IDUs was excellent. Despite frequent reinitiation of drug injection all but 1 remained HCV RNA negative.
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