Brewer, D. D., & Hagan, H. (2009). Evaluation of a patient referral contact tracing program for HBV and HCV infection in drug injectors. Eurosurveillance, 14(14):pii=19170.
Effective contact tracing for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection could enhance disease control, especially in populations with low HBV vaccination rates and high prevalence of untreated HCV infection. We evaluated a low-cost approach to HBV/HCV contact tracing in injection drug users (IDUs). Index cases (n=26) were IDUs who seroconverted to HBV and/or HCV during a prospective cohort study in Seattle. Interviewers elicited index cases’ recent injection partners and administered recall cues and other techniques to boost recall. Index cases received vouchers for free hepatitis testing, which they were to give to locatable partners. Persons redeeming vouchers also received small monetary incentives. Most (26/40) seroconverters participated in the paid contact interviews. Index cases reported many partners (mean=17), and in the aggregate, index cases indicated they could refer more than one third of their elicited partners for testing. Overall, only 17 persons were ultimately referred and just eight of these were confirmed as partners sought for referral. The supplementary elicitation techniques, and especially the recall cues, increased reporting of injection partners substantially. The injection network constructed from reported partnerships was mostly connected and cyclic. Successful contact tracing in IDUs likely requires active involvement by public health staff to locate and notify exposed injection partners.