Background: Hepatitis C (HCV) diagnosis and care is a major challenge for people who use illicit drugs, and is characterised by low rates of testing and treatment engagement globally. New approaches to fostering engagement are needed. We explored the acceptability of remote forms of HCV testing including self-testing and self-sampling among people who use drugs in London, UK. Methods: A qualitative rapid assessment was undertaken with people who use drugs and stakeholders in London, UK. Focus groups were held with men who have sex with men engaged in drug use, people who currently inject drugs and people who formerly injected drugs (22 participants across the 3 focus groups). Stakeholders participated in semi-structured interviews (n = 5). We used a thematic analysis to report significant themes in participants' responses. Results: We report an overarching theme of 'tension' in how participants responded to the acceptability of remote testing. This tension is evident across four separate sub-themes we explore. First, choice and control, with some valuing the autonomy and privacy remote testing could support. Second, the ease of use of self testing linked to its immediate result and saliva sample was preferred over the delayed result from a self administered blood sample tested in a laboratory. Third, many respondents described the need to embed remote testing within a supportive care pathway. Fourth, were concerns over managing a positive result, and its different meanings, in isolation. Conclusions: The concept of remote HCV testing is acceptable to some people who use drugs in London, although tensions with lived experience of drug use and health system access limit its relevance. Future development of remote testing must respond to concerns raised in order for acceptable implementation to take place.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was conducted with support from the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Blood Borne and Sexually Transmitted Infections at UCL, in partnership with Public Health England and in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the National Institute for Health Research, the Department of Health or Public Health England.
© 2018 The Author(s)..
- Hepatitis C
- People who use drugs
- Rapid assessment
- Remote testing
- Self testing