A comparison of HCV antibody testing in drug-free and methadone maintenance treatment programs in the United States.

National Development and Research Institutes, Inc, 71 West 23rd Street, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10010, USA.
Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Impact Factor: 3.28). 04/2004; 73(3):227-36. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2003.08.009
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Drug treatment programs are uniquely situated to screen patients for antibodies for hepatitis C virus (HCV), an infectious disease that has reached epidemic proportions among drug users. This paper compares the accessibility and patients' use of opportunities for HCV antibody testing in a large sample of methadone and drug-free treatment programs (N=256) in the US, and reports programs' recent changes and future plans concerning it. Results indicate that almost all methadone and about two-thirds of drug-free programs in the sample provided HCV antibody screening to at least some patients in 2001. While about two-thirds of the methadone and close to one-third of the drug-free programs offered this service to all patients, these programs report that only about 3/5 of their patients actually provided specimens for testing for HCV antibodies. Some drug treatment programs were planning to increase the availability and accessibility of HCV antibody screening, but others were planning to cut back on these services, primarily due to limited resources. These results can inform policymakers who advocate for increased HCV antibody screening in drug treatment programs about the current level and future plans for implementing these services, illuminating where resources and motivational efforts need to be targeted.

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