Introduction and Aims. People who inject drugs (PWID) constitute the largest reservoir of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Although effective medications are available and access to care is universal in Italy, the proportion of PWID receiving appropriate care remains low. Design and Methods. To identify the major barriers for PWID to HCV treatment we surveyed a large sample of practitioners working in outpatient addiction centres (SerDs). The survey was conducted in two stages and involved 30.3% of SerDs operating in Italy. In the first, SerD physicians completed a questionnaire designed with a Delphi structure. In the second, SerD practitioners completed a targeted questionnaire to identify barriers to four SerD services in HCV management: screening, referral, treatment and harm reduction. Results. The first-stage questionnaire, in which a Delphi and RAND-UCLA method was used, revealed a lack of agreement among the physicians about barriers to health care. The more detailed second-stage questionnaire indicated the barriers to delivering specific SerD services. As regarded the delivery of all four services, the major reasons for treating <50% of patients were: physician and nurse understaffing, technical,economic and logistic issues. In contrast, the practitioners who responded that they follow protocol recommendations often deliver all four services to >50% of patients. Discussion and Conclusions. HCV treatment remains out of reach for many PWID attending a drug treatment centre in Italy. To meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) target, there is a need to increase economic, technical and staff support at treatment centres using the protocols and the universal health care already in place.
- hepatitis C virus, infection, drugs, drugs management