- 1Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
- 2The Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Background and aims: Hepatitis C (HCV) is a global public health concern, particularly in the prison setting where prevalence is substantially higher than in the general population. Direct-acting antivirals have changed the treatment landscape, allowing for treatment scale-up efforts potentially sufficient to achieve prevention of onward transmission (treatment-as-prevention). The Surveillance and Treatment of Prisoners with hepatitis C (SToP-C) study was the first trial to examine the efficacy of HCV treatment-as-prevention in the prison setting. Social capital is a social resource which has been found to influence health outcomes. This qualitative study sought to understand the role of social capital within an HCV treatment-as-prevention trial in the prison setting.
Design: Semi-structured in-depth interviews were undertaken with participants recruited from the SToP-C study following HCV treatment completion (with cure).
Setting: Three male correctional centres in New South Wales, Australia (including two maximum-security and one minimum-security).
Participants: Twenty-three men in prison participated in semi-structured interviews.
Measurements: Thematic analysis of transcripts was completed using a social capital framework, which enabled exploration of the ways in which bonding, bridging and linking social capital promoted or inhibited HCV treatment uptake within a treatment-as-prevention trial.
Findings: Social capital fostered HCV treatment uptake within an HCV treatment-as-prevention trial in the prison setting. Bonding social capital encouraged treatment uptake and alleviated concerns of side effects, bridging social capital supported prison-wide treatment uptake, and linking social capital fostered trust in study personnel (including nurses and correctional officers), thereby enhancing treatment engagement.
Conclusions: Social capital, including bonding, bridging and linking, can play an important role in hepatitis C treatment-as-prevention efforts within the male prison setting.