Barriers to Hepatitis C Treatment among Women in Methadone Treatment: A Study from Iran, the Most Populous Persian Gulf Country

Omid Massah, Mohammad Effatpanah, Afsaneh Moradi, Mohammad Salehi, Ali Farhoudian, Zahra Karami


Background: Untreated Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) has been reported among many Iranian female methadone patients. However, few of them report receiving HCV treatment. The present study is the first research from western Asia that explored the barriers to receiving HCV treatment among a group of Iranian female HCV-infected methadone patients.

Methods: This qualitative study was conducted in four main methadone treatment clinics in Tehran, Iran, in November 2016. Overall, fifty-six untreated HCV-infected women and eight clinicians from HCV and methadone treatment services were interviewed. Women either had not received HCV treatment or received HCV treatment but left it. Data were analyzed using NVivo software. This was based on the grounded theory of Strauss and Corbin.

Findings: Barriers to receiving HCV treatment included factors related to individuals and factors related to the system. Individual factors included the perception that untreated HCV infection was not a serious health concern, family responsibilities, and self-perceived discrimination against HCV-infected women. System-related factors included the lack of referral from methadone treatment staff, and a long distance between HCV treatment centers and methadone treatment centers. Interviews with the health professionals also confirmed the women’ self-reports.

Conclusion: The results of this research confirm the necessity of providing HCV education and the delivery of comprehensive care for this group in methadone treatment clinics. Other services such as staff education and HCV treatment services at methadone treatment centers are suggested.


Drugs; Hepatitis C virus; Iran; Methadone; Treatment

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