Peer support models for people with a history of injecting drug use undertaking assessment and treatment for hepatitis C virus infection

Sione Crawford, Nicky Bath
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2013, 57: S75-9
People who inject drugs (PWID) are the group most affected by HCV; however, treatment uptake has been low. Engagement between PWID and healthcare workers has been characterized by mistrust and discrimination. Peer support for HCV is one way to overcome these barriers. Peer support models for chronic disease management have been successfully applied for other diseases. HCV peer support models have been implemented in various settings, but those that include opioid substitution treatment have been more common. Most models have been either service generated (provider led) or community controlled (peer led). Peer support models have been implemented successfully, with a range of outcomes including increased treatment knowledge and uptake and improved service provision. Genuine partnerships between peers and services were common across models and led to positive transformations for both clients and services. Further investigation of peer support for HCV treatment and its impact on both individuals and services is recommended.

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