Background Chronic hepatitis C infection (HCV) is common in injecting drug users and is a major cause of liver disease. Antiviral treatment can ‘cure’ HCV, but is frequently associated with side effects and requires regular monitoring. Non-attendance at hospital appointments is frequent. To try and improve attendance and increase the number of current and previous injecting drug users treated we developed three outreach clinics.
Objective To review the outcome of patients referred to the outreach clinics.
Methods Retrospective service review of three clinics at drug treatment centres in Newcastle and Northumberland. Data was collected on attendance rates, patient demographics, treatment rates and outcomes.
Results 141 referrals were received across the three sites with an overall attendance rate of 75% (106 patients, 79% men and median age 36), which compared favourably with that at our hospital (50%). All patients were on methadone/subutex. 45% were infected with Genotype 1 HCV. 10% were cirrhotic. To date, 30% have started treatment and 21% are waiting to start or are still in workup. 13% elected to delay treatment due to early stage disease and 11% were not ready for treatment on psychological or social grounds. Only 12% failed to attend follow up after initial assessment. To date, 24 patients have completed full courses of treatment with sustained viral response in 13 patients. Results are awaited for seven patients.
Conclusions The development of outreach clinics for HCV in drug treatment centres can substantially improve clinic attendance and increase access to treatment in this marginalised group.
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