Preventing hepatitis C: ‘Common sense’, ‘the bug’ and other perspectives from the risk narratives of people who inject drugs

Abstract

There is little published research about how people who inject drugs are responding to the hepatitis C epidemic. This study seeks to address the prevention of hepatitis C using qualitative interviews with people who inject drugs in London. We explored narratives about risk reduction and hepatitis C in the social and historical context of other risks such as HIV, vein damage and overdose. Themes of the narratives included: the importance of autonomy in the acquisition of safer injecting skills; that safer injection was regarded as ‘common sense’, normalised and predicated on the risk of HIV; that hepatitis C risk was relativised with HIV risk and thereby seen as less important; and that hepatitis C infection was also seen as unavoidable. These narrative forms represent significant challenges for the management of the hepatitis C epidemic, both in terms of the existing risk reduction efforts designed for HIV and in terms of the articulation of risk reduction for injectors with general public health policy.

Citation

Davis, M.; Rhodes, T.; Martin, A. Preventing hepatitis C: ‘Common sense’, ‘the bug’ and other perspectives from the risk narratives of people who inject drugs. Social Science and Medicine (2004) 59 (9) 1807-1818. [DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.02.021]

Preventing hepatitis C: ‘Common sense’, ‘the bug’ and other perspectives from the risk narratives of people who inject drugs

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