Injection drug users (IDUs) are at high risk for multiple health problems, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), viral hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and are likely to have poor access to health care. To more effectively serve high-risk clients, experts recommend that programs accessed by such client populations offer integrated services. In 2000, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene integrated viral hepatitis services (vaccine and screening) into a publicly funded STD clinic. We evaluated integrated service delivery to high-risk IDUs at this clinic.
Hepatitis data were reviewed to identify clients who self-reported as IDUs. STD medical records of these clients were abstracted to ascertain primary reason for clinic visit, STD/HIV services received, and diagnoses made.
Between May 2000 and March 2004, 8,778 individuals received hepatitis services, of whom 3% (279/8,778) reported injection drug use. Nearly 60% (161/279) of IDUs reported availability of hepatitis services as the primary reason for the clinic visit. Of these 161 clients, 103 (64%) also received other services; 54% (55/103) had an STD exam (yielding 12 new STD diagnoses), and 59% (61/103) had HIV counseling and testing (yielding two new HIV cases). Of these 103 clients, 31 (30%) were referred to the clinic for hepatitis services from a drug treatment center, and 77% (24/31) tested positive for the antibody to hepatitis C virus.
Integrated hepatitis services appeared to attract IDUs to this STD clinic, where many also benefited from STD/HIV exams, testing, treatment, and referrals they may not have received otherwise.