Pilot Study: Combining Formal and Peer Education with FibroScan to Increase HCV Screening and Treatment in Persons who use Drugs

Amber Arain*, Jessica De Sousa, Kirsten Corten, Rita Verrando, Herbert Thijs, Catharina Mathei, Frank Buntinx, Geert Robaeys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Treatment uptake for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection remains low in persons who inject drugs (PWID), due to lack of knowledge and low perceived need for treatment. Therefore, we conducted a pilot study to assess the influence on knowledge and willingness for HCV screening and treatment among persons who use drugs (PWUD) by combining formal and peer education with FibroScan measurement. Methods: Clients of the Center for Alcohol and other Drug problems (CAD) in Limburg (Belgium) were randomized into a control group, which received the standard of care, and an intervention group, which received an innovative combination of formal and peer education followed by FibroScan. Knowledge of HCV infection and willingness for screening and treatment were evaluated at baseline, after intervention and 1 and 3 months after intervention by means of questionnaires. Results: Baseline knowledge was similar for the control (n = 27) and the intervention group (n = 25) (58 vs. 59%; p = 0.67). Immediately after the information session, knowledge increased to 86% (p <0.001) in the intervention group. After 3 months, knowledge decreased significantly (69%; p = 0.01). No significant changes in knowledge were found in the control group. Baseline willingness for treatment was 81% in both the control and intervention groups, but after 1 month decreased in the control group (44%) and remained stable in the intervention group (75%). Differences in actual screening uptake between the control and intervention group were not significant (7% vs. 20%). Four percent of the intervention group and no one in the control group started treatment. Conclusion: The small. number of subjects should be considered when interpreting the results of this study. In brief, the single information session significantly improved HCV knowledge among PWUD, but did not result in a higher uptake for screening and treatment. This could signify that there are other important reasons, besides lack of knowledge, not to undergo screening or start treatment. The fact that knowledge decreased after 3 months indicates that it would be beneficial to repeat the information session regularly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-49
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Persons who use drugs
  • Therapeutic education
  • Knowledge

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