The statement, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, contradicts guidelines issued by the US National Institutes of Health in 1997. The guidelines said that addicts should not be given treatment until they had spent at least six months off drugs.
The statement, prepared by doctors at the University of California, San Francisco, USA, says that addicts are patients and should not be denied treatment.
It cites recent evidence suggesting that HCV treatment can be effective when given to users.
|"Adherence by drug users to medical interventions is as good as in any group of patients"|
|Brian Edlin |
Drug users may not have access to substance abuse treatment, but they can be taught to use sterile needles to prevent reinfection.
Lead author Dr Brian Edlin reports, "A policy of deferring HCV treatment indefinitely, in patients who do not have access to substance abuse treatment, effectively abandons those most affected by the HCV epidemic.
"If poor adherence were a reason to withhold treatment, most medical conditions would go untreated."
Dr Edlin adds, "The fact is that when treatment strategies take into account patients' life circumstances, adherence by drug users to medical interventions is as good as in any group of patients - and often very good."
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