September 2016

Hepatitis C treatments: What NSPs can do

NSP workers can have a huge impact on hepatitis C rates among people who inject drugs.

According to the Kirby Institute’s Annual Surveillance Report on HIV, viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections in Australia (2012), hepatitis C prevalence among people attending needle and syringe programs was at high levels in 2002–11. It found hepatitis C prevalence in 2011 was 52 per cent among men and 54 per cent among women.

  • Prevention: NSPs are the principal hepatitis C prevention tool in Australia, according to the Australian Government’s national strategy on blood-borne viruses. NSP workers provide sterile injecting equipment and information about harm minimisation.
  • Referral: They can offer pathways to medical care, counselling and other services.
  • Education: NSP workers can let clients know about the new hepatitis C treatments. They can discuss high rates of success at clearing the virus, the relatively short treatment periods and the low incidence of side-effects.
  • Reducing stigma: Talking with clients in a non-judgmental way, NSP workers can help reduce feelings of shame around hepatitis C infection.
  • Peer support: Peers are credible, trusted sources of information. They can connect with hard-to-reach groups to share prevention messages and education.

The medications

  • Harvoni® (sofosbuvir + ledipasvir) For genotype 1 8,12 or 24 weeks
  • Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir) and Daklinza® (daclatasvir) For genotype 1 and 3
  • Sovaldi® (sofosbuvir) and Ibavyr® (ribavirin) For genotype 2
  • Viekira Pak® (paritaprevir + ritonavir + ombitasvir + dasabuvir) [sometimes with ribavirin] For genotype 1

Source: Hepatitis Australia