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Predictors of Alcohol Use Among Rural Drug Users After Disclosure of Hepatitis C Virus Status
Dustin B. Stephens, Jennifer R. Havens
Objective: Alcohol consumption dramatically increases the risk of liver damage among those with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, yet the impact of HCV status disclosure and standard informational counseling on alcohol use among rural drug users remains poorly understood. Method: In this prospective study, 503 rural Appalachian drug users were recruited using respondent-driven sampling. Participants were tested for HCV antibodies, and data on sociodemographic characteristics, lifetime and past-30-day drug and alcohol use, and psychiatric disorders were collected by interviewer-administered questionnaires. A total of 470 participants returned after 6 months for follow-up; however,4 of those had no history of alcohol use, thus leaving a final sample size of 466. Multivariate negative binomial regression was used to determine the effect of disclosure of HCV status and posttest counseling on alcohol consumption at follow-up. Results: Despite an overall decrease in drinking frequency in the cohort, those who were HCV-positive were drinking at a frequency similar to their HCV-negative counterparts at follow-up, despite posttest counseling informing them of the risks of alcohol use with an HCV diagnosis (adjusted incidence rate ratio = 1.07, 95% CI [0.72, 1.61]). Significant predictors of increased days of alcohol use after 6 months included baseline alcohol use, baseline marijuana use, and meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, criteria for antisocial personality disorder. Those using OxyContin at baseline had significantly fewer days of alcohol use at follow-up. Conclusions: HCV status disclosure and standard informational counseling alone do not curtail drinking among HCV-positive drug users in the rural setting. Targeted interventions with regard to alcohol use are warranted in order to mitigate the damage of the HCV epidemic. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 386–395, 2013)