Background. In spite of the disproportionate prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among drug users, many remain uninformed or misinformed about the virus. Drug treatment programs are important sites of opportunity for providing HCV education to their patients, and many programs do, in fact, offer this education in a variety of formats. Little is known, however, about the level of HCV knowledge among drug treatment program patients, and the extent to which they utilize their programs' HCV education services. Methods. Using data collected from patients (N = 280) in 14 U.S. drug treatment programs, we compared patients who reported that they never injected drugs (NIDUs) with past or current drug injectors (IDUs) concerning their knowledge about HCV, whether they used HCV education opportunities at their programs, and the facilitators and barriers to doing so. All of the programs were participating in a research project that was developing, implementing, and evaluating a staff training to provide HCV support to patients. Results. Although IDUs scored higher on an HCV knowledge assessment than NIDUs, there were many gaps in HCV knowledge among both groups of patients. To address these knowledge gaps, all of the programs offered at least one form of HCV education: all offered 1:1 sessions with staff, 12 of the programs offered HCV education in a group format, and 11 of the programs offered this education through pamphlets/books. Only 60% of all of the participating patients used any of their programs' HCV education services, but those who did avail themselves of these HCV education opportunities generally assessed them positively. In all, many patients were unaware that HCV education was offered at their programs through individual sessions with staff, group meetings, and books/pamphlets, (42%, 49%, and 46% of the patients, respectively), and 22% were unaware that any HCV education opportunities existed. Conclusion. Efforts especially need to focus on ensuring that all drug treatment program patients are made aware of and encouraged to use HCV education services at their programs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy