BACKGROUND: People who inject drugs are at the greatest risk of acquiring hepatitis C virus infection in many high-income countries, including those in Europe. Our review examined the effectiveness of interventions aimed at increasing hepatitis C virus testing uptake.
METHODS: We undertook a systematic review of controlled studies. Searches of 13 databases were supplemented with citation searching, and manual searches of reference lists and websites. Studies of interventions that aimed to increase testing uptake among high-risk groups were included. Testing uptake was our primary outcome measure of interest and secondary outcomes were engagement in follow-up services and treatment. A narrative synthesis was undertaken.
RESULTS: Eight controlled studies were included. Three studies examined interventions in primary care; one examined dried blood spot testing as an alternative method of testing, and two examined outreach provision. Two further studies examined interventions to improve hepatitis C management. Targeted case finding in primary care, support and training for primary care practitioners, offering alternative testing and provision of outreach testing all increased uptake of testing; however, intervention effects were variable.
CONCLUSIONS: Evidence from the available studies suggests that increases in testing uptake can be achieved. Careful attention needs to be paid to the resource implications associated with implementation of interventions in primary care settings and also of the potential for interventions to improve outcomes once a positive diagnosis has been made. Further research on the cost-effectiveness of the intervention approaches examined in this review is required.
- Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
- Health Promotion/methods
- Hepatitis C/diagnosis
- Middle Aged
- Program Evaluation/methods
- Substance Abuse, Intravenous/epidemiology