The Kirby Institute at the University of NSW, along with the International Network on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users (INHSU), published the recommendations online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
An estimated 226,000 people are living with hep C in Australia and over 10,000 new cases are reported each year. Nearly 80% of all infections occur among people who inject drugs and just 1% of these people are currently receiving treatment.
Dr Jason Grebely, senior lecturer at the Kirby Institute and co-lead author of the recommendations, said treatment for hep C infection among people who inject drugs is unacceptably low.
“Clinicians have been hesitant to recommend treatment in this population because of a lack of understanding about how lifestyle factors may impede successful treatment,” Dr Grebely said.
However, research on treating hepatitis C in people who inject drugs has shown that treatment can be very successful when barriers are addressed within a supportive environment.
“Reducing the significant burden of liver disease related to hepatitis C in Australia and internationally will require improved assessment and treatment of the population most affected: people who currently inject drugs and those who have injected drugs in the past,” Dr Philip Bruggmann, President of INHSU said.