Publications by authors named "Rachel Glass"

8 Publications

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Factors associated with hepatitis C and HIV testing uptake among men who inject image and performance enhancing drugs.

Drug Alcohol Rev 2021 May 8;40(4):586-596. Epub 2020 Nov 8.

Substance Misuse Programme, Public Health Wales, Cardiff, UK.

Introduction And Aims: Historically, people who inject image and performance enhancing drugs (IPED) were not perceived as being at high risk of HIV or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, recent studies indicate HCV and HIV prevalences are elevated, with many HCV infections undiagnosed.

Design And Methods: Men who inject IPEDs recruited from community settings and specialist services, including needle-syringe programs, across UK during 2016 self-completed a questionnaire. Multivariate analyses examined factors associated with HCV/HIV testing.

Results: The participants' (n=562; 24% service recruited) median age was 31 years, 4% identified as gay or bisexual, 18% had ever been imprisoned and 6% had ever injected a psychoactive drug. Those community recruited more often reported sharing drugs vials (16% vs. 8%, P=0.021) and, among those with 2+ sexual partners, poor condom use (50% vs. 36%, P=0.063), than those service recruited. Overall, one-third had ever been tested for HCV (31%) and/or HIV (34%). Testing uptake was associated with other risk factors for HCV/HIV, being recruited through services and having received metabolic tests. Participants' motivations for using IPEDs were associated with recruitment setting and HIV/HCV testing uptake.

Discussion And Conclusions: The majority were untested for HCV/HIV. HCV/HIV testing and risks were associated with recruitment through services. Previous needle and syringe program-based studies have potentially overestimated testing uptake and underestimated risk. Targeted interventions are needed, particularly for those not accessing services. The association between HCV/HIV testing uptake and receipt of metabolic tests suggests that developing a combined offer of these tests as part of health monitoring could improve uptake.
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May 2021

The cost-effectiveness of an HCV outreach intervention for at-risk populations in London, UK.

J Antimicrob Chemother 2019 11;74(Suppl 5):v5-v16

Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.

Background: HCV disproportionately affects marginalized communities such as homeless populations and people who inject drugs (PWID), posing a challenge to traditional health services. The HepFriend initiative in London is a model of care utilizing HCV outreach screening and peer support to link vulnerable individuals to HCV treatment in secondary care.

Objectives: To assess the cost-effectiveness of the HepFriend initiative from a healthcare provider perspective, compared with standard-of-care pathways (consisting of testing in primary care and other static locations, including drug treatment centres, and linkage to secondary care).

Methods: Cost-effectiveness analysis using a dynamic HCV transmission and disease progression model among PWID and those who have ceased injecting, including housing status and drug treatment service contact. The model was parameterized using London-specific surveillance and survey data, and primary intervention cost and effectiveness data (September 2015 to June 2018). Out of 461 individuals screened, 197 were identified as HCV RNA positive, 180 attended secondary care and 89 have commenced treatment to date. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) was determined using a 50 year time horizon.

Results: For a willingness-to-pay threshold of £20000 per QALY gained, the HepFriend initiative is cost-effective, with a mean ICER of £9408/QALY, and would become cost saving at 27% (£10525 per treatment) of the current drug list price. Results are robust to variations in intervention costs and model assumptions, and if treatment rates are doubled the intervention becomes more cost-effective (£8853/QALY).

Conclusions: New models of care that undertake active case-finding with enhanced peer support to improve testing and treatment uptake amongst marginalized and vulnerable groups could be highly cost-effective and possibly cost saving.
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November 2019

Evaluating the population impact of hepatitis C direct acting antiviral treatment as prevention for people who inject drugs (EPIToPe) - a natural experiment (protocol).

BMJ Open 2019 09 24;9(9):e029538. Epub 2019 Sep 24.

Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK.

Introduction: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the second largest contributor to liver disease in the UK, with injecting drug use as the main risk factor among the estimated 200 000 people currently infected. Despite effective prevention interventions, chronic HCV prevalence remains around 40% among people who inject drugs (PWID). New direct-acting antiviral (DAA) HCV therapies combine high cure rates (>90%) and short treatment duration (8 to 12 weeks). Theoretical mathematical modelling evidence suggests HCV treatment scale-up can prevent transmission and substantially reduce HCV prevalence/incidence among PWID. Our primary aim is to generate empirical evidence on the effectiveness of HCV 'Treatment as Prevention' (TasP) in PWID.

Methods And Analysis: We plan to establish a natural experiment with Tayside, Scotland, as a single intervention site where HCV care pathways are being expanded (including specialist drug treatment clinics, needle and syringe programmes (NSPs), pharmacies and prison) and HCV treatment for PWID is being rapidly scaled-up. Other sites in Scotland and England will act as potential controls. Over 2 years from 2017/2018, at least 500 PWID will be treated in Tayside, which simulation studies project will reduce chronic HCV prevalence among PWID by 62% (from 26% to 10%) and HCV incidence will fall by approximately 2/3 (from 4.2 per 100 person-years (p100py) to 1.4 p100py). Treatment response and re-infection rates will be monitored. We will conduct focus groups and interviews with service providers and patients that accept and decline treatment to identify barriers and facilitators in implementing TasP. We will conduct longitudinal interviews with up to 40 PWID to assess whether successful HCV treatment alters their perspectives on and engagement with drug treatment and recovery. Trained peer researchers will be involved in data collection and dissemination. The primary outcome - chronic HCV prevalence in PWID - is measured using information from the Needle Exchange Surveillance Initiative survey in Scotland and the Unlinked Anonymous Monitoring Programme in England, conducted at least four times before and three times during and after the intervention. We will adapt Bayesian synthetic control methods (specifically the Causal Impact Method) to generate the cumulative impact of the intervention on chronic HCV prevalence and incidence. We will use a dynamic HCV transmission and economic model to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the HCV TasP intervention, and to estimate the contribution of the scale-up in HCV treatment to observe changes in HCV prevalence. Through the qualitative data we will systematically explore key mechanisms of TasP real world implementation from provider and patient perspectives to develop a manual for scaling up HCV treatment in other settings. We will compare qualitative accounts of drug treatment and recovery with a 'virtual cohort' of PWID linking information on HCV treatment with Scottish Drug treatment databases to test whether DAA treatment improves drug treatment outcomes.

Ethics And Dissemination: Extending HCV community care pathways is covered by ethics (ERADICATE C, ISRCTN27564683, Super DOT C Trial NCT02706223). Ethical approval for extra data collection from patients including health utilities and qualitative interviews has been granted (REC ref: 18/ES/0128) and ISCRCTN registration has been completed (ISRCTN72038467). Our findings will have direct National Health Service and patient relevance; informing prioritisation given to early HCV treatment for PWID. We will present findings to practitioners and policymakers, and support design of an evaluation of HCV TasP in England.
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September 2019

Secondary distribution of injecting equipment obtained from needle and syringe programmes by people injecting image and performance enhancing drugs: England and Wales, 2012-15.

Drug Alcohol Depend 2019 02 14;195:40-44. Epub 2018 Dec 14.

National Infection Service, Public Health England, London, UK.

Background: People who inject image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs) are often the largest group using needle and syringe programmes (NSPs) in the UK. NSP providers report these clients repeatedly collecting large amounts of equipment for others. The extent of secondary distribution of injecting equipment is unknown.

Methods: Data from national surveillance of people injecting IPEDs were used. Participants completed a questionnaire and provided a dried-blood spot sample. Data from two biennial surveys was combined; repeat participants were excluded. Self-reported data was used to explore the extent of secondary distribution.

Results: Of the participants, 87% (467) reported NSP use; median age was 31 years; 98% were male. A third (34%, 157) reported collecting equipment for others. Of those collecting for others, 154 reported how many people they had collected for: 55% had collected for one person, 27% for 2-9 people, 5% for 10-19 and 13% for 20 or more (no difference by psychoactive drug use). Those vaccinated for hepatitis B were more likely (22% [15/68] vs 6% [5/86], p = 0.003), and those reporting redness/swelling at an injection site were less likely to collect equipment for at least 20 others (8% [8/106] vs 25% [12/48], p = 0.003). Overall, 154 people collected equipment for 639-1569 people injecting IPEDs.

Conclusions: Secondary distribution of injecting equipment is common among those injecting IPEDs and using NSPs. Whilst not allowing for rotational collection within groups, our analysis suggests that many of those injecting IPEDs are not in direct contact with NSPs. Innovation approaches for harm reduction interventions are needed.
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February 2019

Sexualised drug use in the United Kingdom (UK): A review of the literature.

Int J Drug Policy 2018 05 4;55:131-148. Epub 2018 Apr 4.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Level 1A, City Tower, Picadilly Plaza, Manchester M1 4BT, United Kingdom.

Background: Sexualised drug use (SDU) refers to the use of drugs in a sexual context. This includes 'Chemsex'- the use of drugs (specifically crystal methamphetamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone) before or during planned sexual activity to sustain, enhance, disinhibit or facilitate the experience. Here we aimed to synthesise available UK prevalence data for Chemsex, SDU and the use of Chemsex drugs in an undefined context (CDU) in men who have sex with men (MSM).

Methods: Papers published between January 2007 and August 2017 reporting Chemsex, SDU and/or Chemsex drug use (CDU) prevalence in MSM were identified through PubMed. Citations were searched for further eligible publications. We also conducted a review of national surveillance data, extracting prevalence data for Chemsex, SDU or CDU. Synthesized data were then assessed to determine the time at which these drugs were taken, in this case just prior to or during sexual activity (event-level).

Results: Our search identified 136 publications, of which 28 were included in the final data synthesis. Three of the four surveillance systems assessed provided SDU or CDU data in MSM. Few publications included event-level data for Chemsex (n = 4), with prevalence estimates ranging from 17% among MSM attending sexual health clinics (SHC) to 31% in HIV-positive MSM inpatients. Prevalence estimates for SDU (n = 7 publications) also varied considerably between 4% in MSM receiving HIV care to 41% among MSM attending SHC for HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Eighteen publications provided data for CDU.

Conclusion: Prevalence estimates varied considerably due to differences in the definition used and population assessed. Standardised definitions and studies with representative national samples of MSM are required to improve our understanding of the extent of Chemsex and its associated risks. Longitudinal event-level data for SDU and Chemsex are needed to monitor impact of interventions.
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May 2018

Patterns of injecting and non-injecting drug use by sexual behaviour in people who inject drugs attending services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 2013-2016.

Int J Drug Policy 2018 05 6;55:215-221. Epub 2018 Mar 6.

HIV & STI Department, National Infection Service, Public Health England, 61 Colindale Avenue, London, NW9 5EQ, United Kingdom. Electronic address:

Background: Higher levels of drug use have been reported in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities, some of which can be explained by sexualised drug use, including 'chemsex'; the use of drugs before or during planned sexual activity to sustain, enhance, disinhibit or facilitate sex. We explored injecting and non-injecting drug use by sexual behaviour among people who inject drugs (PWID) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Methods: Data were used from an unlinked-anonymous survey of PWID (2013-2016), where participants recruited through services self-completed a questionnaire. We included sexually active participants who had injected in the previous year, and compared injecting and non-injecting drug use between men reporting sex with men (MSM) and heterosexual men, and between women reporting sex with women (WSW) and heterosexual women. The questionnaire did not include GHB/GBL and methamphetamine use.

Results: There were 299 MSM, 3215 heterosexual male, 122 WSW and 1336 heterosexual female participants. MSM were more likely than heterosexual men to use drugs associated with chemsex: injected or non-injected mephedrone (adjusted OR (AOR) 2.22, 95%CI 1.54-3.22; AOR 2.15, 95%CI 1.48-3.11) and injected or non-injected ketamine (AOR 1.98, 95%CI 1.29-3.05; AOR 2.57, 95%CI 1.59-4.15). MSM were also more likely to inject methadone, inhale solvents, take ecstasy, cocaine or speed. WSW were more likely than heterosexual women to use non-injected mephedrone (AOR 2.19, 95%CI 1.20-3.99) and use injected or non-injected ketamine (AOR 5.58, 95%CI 2.74-11.4; AOR 3.05, 95%CI 1.30-7.19). WSW were also more likely to inject methadone, inject cocaine, use non-injected cocaine, crack, benzodiazepines or ecstasy, inhale solvents, or smoke cannabis.

Conclusion: Injecting and non-injecting drug use differed between MSM/WSW and heterosexual men and women. The use of drugs that have been associated with chemsex and sexualised drug use is more common among both MSM and WSW than heterosexual men and women.
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May 2018

Ongoing outbreak of invasive and non-invasive disease due to group A Streptococcus (GAS) type emm66 among homeless and people who inject drugs in England and Wales, January to December 2016.

Euro Surveill 2017 Jan;22(3)

Field Epidemiology Services, National Infection Service, Public Health England, London and Bristol, United Kingdom.

We report an outbreak of invasive and non-invasive disease due to an unusual type of Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus, emm66) among a vulnerable, largely homeless population in southern England and Wales, detected in September 2016. Twenty-seven confirmed cases were subsequently identified between 5 January and 29 December 2016; 20 injected drugs and six reported problematic alcohol use. To date, we have ruled out drug-related vehicles of infection and identified few common risk factors.
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January 2017