Barriers to accessing hepatitis C for individuals who have experience with injection drug use and are accessing methadone maintenance treatment
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Hepatitis C (HCV) is an infectious disease of the liver which affects more than 250,000 Canadians; the majority of those living with the disease have experience with injection drug use. Treatment for HCV involves a strict protocol, has only a 50% success rate and has harsh side effects. Interest in HCV treatment among people who use drugs is high, but actual uptake of treatment remains low. The objective of this research was to explore the barriers to accessing HCV treatment for individuals who were accessing methadone. A mixed methods approach was used; a cross sectional survey and an in-depth interview were administered to clients of a methadone maintenance program. The two sets of data identified three main barriers to HCV treatment; stigma, the toxicity of treatment, and day-to-day struggles. Future research should be conducted to further explore how stigma guides decisions around HCV treatment, particularly in a methadone treatment setting.