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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
THAILAND: HCV Testing Rates Low Among IDUs in Thailand
Staff Writer
January 23, 2014
Healio (01.22.2014) Aids Weekly Plus reported on a study that showed only 33 percent of injection drug users (IDUs) in Thailand get tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The study, published in the Journal of Public Health, used data from the Mitsampan Community Research Project, which provided them with information on 427 Thai IDUs between the ages of 34 and 48, including education, patterns of drug use, and health care familiarity. Researchers, led by Thomas Kerr, Ph.D., co-director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, found that the one-third of IDUs who reported getting tested for HCV had higher than a secondary education, were associated with binge use, and were more likely to be receiving methadone. “That these individuals were more likely to have been tested is a positive finding given that IDU[s] who are binge users are at a high risk of acquiring HCV infection,” the researchers wrote. They also noted that receiving methadone demonstrates that drug treatment programs offer additional health care access. “Clinicians should be aware that although access to HIV testing has increased in most settings recently, rates of HCV testing among injection drug users (IDUs) remains low in some countries,” said Dr. Kerr. “It is important to ensure appropriate follow-up after testing for HCV is provided, including access to viral load testing and specialist care.” The full report, “Low Rates of Hepatitis C Testing Among People Who Inject Drugs in Thailand: Implications for Peer-Based Intervention,” was published in the Journal of Public Health (2013; 35 (4):578-584; doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fds105).