2024-25 Project (Platt & Hargreaves)

Evaluating innovations in the prevention of Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs

SUPERVISORY TEAM

Supervisor

Professor Lucy Platt at LSHTM
Email: lucy.platt@lshtm.ac.uk

Co-Supervisor

Professor James Hargreaves at LSHTM
Email: james.hargreaves@lshtm.ac.uk

PROJECT SUMMARY

Project Summary

People who inject drugs (PWID) bear the highest burden of Hepatitis C infection, with an estimated 11 million infections globally.    

We have an exciting opportunity for a PhD to be integrated with an ambitious new multi-country implementation and evaluation programme, “HCV combination prevention in people who inject drugs (PWID) and prisoners (HEPC3P)”, which will run from 2023-2027 in Ukraine, Nigeria, Vietnam, South Africa and India, where HCV prevalence among PWID is high.     

The PhD candidate will develop advanced skills in epidemiology and public health evaluation while generating new knowledge to contribute to the prevention of hepatitis C virus (HCV). The PhD candidate will generate evidence on the use of innovative approaches to HCV prevention including long acting depot buprenorphine and low-dead space syringes among people who inject drugs, towards developing and evaluating optimal models of delivery across different settings.

Project Key Words

Hepatitis C, Public Health evaluation, harm reduction

MRC LID Themes

  • Global Health = Yes
  • Health Data Science = Yes
  • Infectious Disease = Yes
  • Translational and Implementation Research = Yes

Skills

MRC Core Skills

  • Quantitative skills = Yes
  • Interdisciplinary skills = Yes
  • Whole organism physiology = No

Skills we expect a student to develop/acquire whilst pursuing this project

The use of quantitative data sets/programmatic data for evaluation of interventions.

Routes

Which route/s is this project available for?

  • 1+4 = No
  • +4 = Yes

Full-time/Part-time Study

Is this project available for full-time study? Yes
Is this project available for part-time study? Yes

Eligibility/Requirements

Particular prior educational requirements for a student undertaking this project

  • LSHTM’s standard institutional eligibility criteria for doctoral study.
  • Epidemiology and/or statistics

Other useful information

  • Potential CASE conversion? = Yes

PROJECT IN MORE DETAIL

Scientific description of this research project

An estimated 58 million people have chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection and there are approximately 1.5 million new infections annually. People who inject drugs bear the highest burden of HCV infection, with an estimated 11 million infections.    

This exciting PhD opportunity will be integrated with an ambitious new programme, “HCV combination prevention in people who inject drugs (PWID) and prisoners (HEPC3P)”.  HEPC3P is a four-year project led by PATH in collaboration with Population Services International, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Bristol. The aim of the consortium is to generate evidence on the implementation, acceptability and effectiveness of innovative interventions including long acting depot buprenorphine (LADB, an opioid agonist therapy) and low-dead space syringes (LDSS), to prevent HCV transmission and inform evidenced-based harm reduction interventions to prevent HCV transmission in community and prison settings. The settings for implementation and evaluation will be Ukraine, Nigeria, Vietnam, South Africa and India.   

This PhD project will contribute new knowledge to the prevention of hepatitis C virus by generating evidence to evaluate innovative approaches to HCV prevention community and prison settings. 

There are four linked objectives: 
1) To synthesise the evidence (from published literature, programme reports, existing datasets) on community-based delivery of needle/syringe programmes and opioid agonist therapy for people who inject drugs in low- income settings. 
2) To measure the impact of innovations in hepatitis C prevention approaches including long acting buprenorphine (LADB, an opioid agonist therapy) and low-dead space syringes (LDSS) on transmission of HCV and other outcomes 
3) To measure the acceptability and adherence to LADB compared to standard opioid agonist therapies. 
4) To assess the feasibility of implementing LDSS and/or LADB through different community-based models.   

The PhD represents an exciting opportunity to study within an interdisciplinary team, in the context of a major programmatic investment on the implementation and evaluation of HCV control interventions. The PhD would start at the beginning of data collection and is ideally timed to work alongside the ongoing activities to shape analysis for the PhD.     

Potential risks to the PhD include delays in getting approvals for the use of LADB or LDSS in the countries which would delay implementation and subsequent evaluation. The inception phase, lasting a year and due to end in February 2024, is intended to mitigate this by building in time to obtain procurement and ethics approvals.

Further reading

(Relevant preprints and/or open access articles)

Additional information from the supervisory team

  • The supervisory team has provided a recording for prospective applicants who are interested in their project. This recording should be watched before any discussions begin with the supervisory team.
    Platt-Hargreaves Recording

MRC LID LINKS