From the Journals

Young opioid users in NYC savvy about HCV



Assessing patient knowledge about hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission knowledge is difficult given the lack of psychometrically tested measures available, according to researchers who developed and validated an HCV injection–risk knowledge scale.

A binder label reads "Diagnosis: hepatitis" ©vchal/Thinkstock

The 5-item, validated HCV Injection-Risk Knowledge Scale may provide educators, care providers, and researchers with critical information for reducing HCV among people who inject drugs (PWID), according to their report.

The researchers analyzed data from 539 New York City opioid users aged 18-29 years who were recruited via respondent-driven sampling in 2014-2016, according to the study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Principal components analysis (PCA) of nine knowledge items answered true, false, or don’t know identified useful scale items. These were then evaluated for internal consistency and assessed by comparing knowledge levels with those from a previously validated general HCV knowledge scale and by comparing key subgroup knowledge levels.

PCA identified one component with five items that explained 45% of the total variance and had high internal consistency (alpha, 0.91). All of the component items referred to transmission through drug-injection equipment and practices: sharing materials such as cookers, cottons, diluting water, water containers, and cleaning syringes with water.

The mean percent correct was 75%, and was moderately correlated with general HCV knowledge. Knowledge levels were highest for those previously tested for HCV, those with HCV antibody–positive status, PWID, and those who had received harm reduction information in various settings.

“The low percentage correct among those who had never injected [52% vs. 83% correct among injectors] is concerning given the possibility of their experimenting with drug injection as route of administration,” they added.

“These results suggest that primary care providers, drug treatment programs, and syringe exchange programs are important sources of HCV risk knowledge among at-risk populations, similar to other studies’ findings,” the researchers concluded.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the authors reported no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Quinn K et al. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019;194:453-9.

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