Gaps in HCV knowledge and risk behaviors among young suburban people who inject drugs

John J. Jost, Barbara Tempalski, Tatiana Vera, Matthew J. Akiyama, Aprille P. Mangalonzo, Alain H. Litwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) among young suburban people who inject drugs (PWID) is a growing epidemic in the United States, yet little is known about the factors contributing to increased exposure. The goal of this study was to explore and assess HCV knowledge and attitudes about treatment and identify risk behaviors among a cohort of young suburban PWID. Methods: We conducted interviews with New Jersey (NJ) service providers and staff from the state’s five syringe service programs to inform a semistructured survey addressing HCV knowledge, treatment, and risk factors among young suburban PWID. We then used this survey to conduct qualitative interviews with 14 young suburban PWID (median age 26 years) in NJ between April and May 2015. Data were analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach and coded to identify thematic relationships among respondents. Results: Most participants had substantial gaps in several aspects of HCV knowledge. These included: HCV transmission, HCV symptoms, and the availability of new direct-acting antiviral therapy. Participants also downplayed the risk of past and current risk behaviors, such as sharing drug paraphernalia and reusing needles, which also reflected incomplete knowledge regarding these practices. Conclusion: Young suburban PWID are not receiving or retaining accurate and current HCV information. Innovative outreach and prevention messages specifically tailored to young suburban PWID may help to disseminate HCV prevention and treatment information to this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1958
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • HCV
  • HCV knowledge
  • Qualitative
  • Risk behaviors
  • Young suburban PWID

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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