Intensive models of hepatitis C care for people who inject drugs receiving opioid agonist therapy a randomized controlled trial

Matthew J. Akiyama, Brianna L. Norton, Julia H. Arnsten, Linda Agyemang, Moonseong Heo, Alain H. Litwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Background: Many people who inject drugs (PWID) are denied treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, even if they are receiving opioid agonist therapy (OAT). Research suggests that HCV in PWID may be treated effectively, but optimal models of care for promoting adherence and sustained virologic response (SVR) have not been evaluated in the direct-acting antiviral (DAA) era. Objective: To determine whether directly observed therapy (DOT) and group treatment (GT) are more effective than self-administered individual treatment (SIT) in promoting adherence and achieving SVR among PWID receiving OAT. Design: Three-group, randomized controlled trial conducted from October 2013 to April 2017. ( NCT01857245) Setting: Three OAT programs in Bronx, New York. Participants: Persons aged 18 years and older with genotype 1 HCV infection who were willing to receive HCV therapy on site in the OAT program. Of 190 persons screened, 158 were randomly assigned to a study group and 150 initiated treatment: DOT (n = 51), GT (n = 48), and SIT (n = 51). Intervention: 2 intensive interventions (DOT and GT) and 1 control condition (SIT). Measurements: Primary: adherence, measured by using electronic blister packs. Secondary: HCV treatment completion and SVR 12 weeks after treatment completion. Results: Mean age was 51 years; 65% of participants had positive results on urine drug testing during the 6 months before treatment, and 75% reported ever injecting drugs. Overall adherence, estimated from mixed-effects models using the daily timeframe, was 78% (95% CI, 75% to 81%) and was greater among participants randomly assigned to DOT (86% [CI, 80% to 92%]) than those assigned to SIT (75% [CI, 70% to 81%]; difference, 11% [CI, 5% to 18%]; Bonferroni-corrected P = 0.001). No significant difference in adherence was observed between participants randomly assigned to GT (80% [CI, 74% to 86%]) and those assigned to SIT (difference, 4.7% [CI, 2% to 11%]; Bonferroni-corrected P = 0.29). The HCV treatment completion rate was 97%, with no differences among groups (P = 0.53). Overall SVR was 94% (CI, 89% to 97%); the SVR rate was 98% in the DOT group, 94% in the GT group, and 90% in the SIT group (P = 0.152). Limitation: These findings may not be generalizable to PWID not enrolled in OAT programs. Conclusion: All models of onsite HCV care delivered to PWID in OAT programs resulted in high SVR, despite ongoing drug use. Directly observed therapy was associated with greater adherence than SIT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-603
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Intensive models of hepatitis C care for people who inject drugs receiving opioid agonist therapy a randomized controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this