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Keywords:

  • drug use;
  • hepatitis C;
  • intravenous drug users;
  • outcome;
  • treatment

Summary.  Reluctance has been expressed about treating chronic hepatitis C in active intravenous (IV) drug users (IDUs), and this is found in both international guidelines and routine clinical practice. However, the medical literature provides no evidence for an unequivocal treatment deferral of this risk group. We retrospectively analyzed the direct effect of IV drug use on treatment outcome in 500 chronic hepatitis C patients enrolled in the Swiss Hepatitis C Cohort Study. Patients were eligible for the study if they had their serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA tested 6 months after the end of treatment and at least one visit during the antiviral therapy, documenting the drug use status. Five hundred patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria (199 were IDU and 301 controls). A minimum exposure to 80% of the scheduled cumulative dose of antivirals was reached in 66.0% of IDU and 60.5% of controls (P = NS). The overall sustained virological response (SVR) rate was 63.6%. Active IDU reached a SVR of 69.3%, statistically not significantly different from controls (59.8%). A multivariate analysis for treatment success showed no significant negative influence of active IV drug use. In conclusion, our study shows no relevant direct influence of IV drugs on the efficacy of anti-HCV therapy among adherent patients.