Silence Surrounding Hepatitis C Status in Risk Relationships Among Rural People Who Use Drugs

Megan G. Hofmeister, Jennifer R. Havens, April M. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has reached epidemic proportions in rural Central Appalachia in recent years. We sought to identify demographic, behavioral, and interpersonal characteristics associated with HCV serostatus disclosure among high risk people who use drugs (PWUD) in Appalachian Kentucky. HCV antibody-positive participants (n = 243), drawn from the fifth follow-up assessment of a longitudinal study of rural PWUD, completed interviewer-administered questionnaires eliciting demographic and interpersonal characteristics, risk behaviors, and information about HCV disclosure. We assessed correlates of HCV disclosure using gender-stratified multivariate logistic regression. Participants reported having disclosed their HCV-positive status to a current sex partner (44.0%), family member (35.8%), close friend (9.5%), or past sex partner (6.6%). Of those reporting current (n = 72) or past (n = 215) injection drug use (IDU), only 2.8% disclosed to current and 0.9% disclosed to past IDU partners, respectively. Female participants were more likely than male participants to disclose to current sex partners and family member(s). In multivariate analyses, adjusting for time since testing HCV positive, older age and lifetime history of drug treatment were associated with decreased odds of HCV disclosure among females, while only lifetime history of drug treatment was associated with decreased odds of HCV disclosure among males. In summary, the almost complete absence of disclosure to current or former injection drug use partners was concerning. However, most participants (69.1%) reported disclosing their HCV status to at least one of their social referents, suggesting that family members, partners, and friends of people living with HCV could play a critical role in encouraging uptake of treatment. Although further research is warranted, it is clear that interventions are needed to encourage HCV disclosure among those most at risk of transmitting HCV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-494
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • Disclosure
  • Drug user
  • Hepatitis C
  • Rural
  • Social support
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Silence Surrounding Hepatitis C Status in Risk Relationships Among Rural People Who Use Drugs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this