Identifying the Hidden Population: Former Intravenous Drug Users who are no Longer in Contact with Services. “Ask a Friend”

Sarah R. Donaldson (Lead / Corresponding author), Andrew Radley, John F. Dillon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


People who, after a period of drug use, have changed their lifestyle and left substance use behind them are a hidden population within our communities. Lack of contact with drug services may mean that they are not tested for hepatitis C (HCV) infection through service‐led initiatives and, therefore, may be exposed to the chronic morbidity and risk of death inherent with a legacy of HCV infection. This study utilized respondent‐driven sampling (RDS) in a novel fashion to find those at historical risk of HCV. The social networks of people with a history of drug use were mapped, and individuals not currently in contact with services were invited to come forward for testing by members of their social network. The study used a reference group to inform study methodology and communication methods to reach out to this hidden population. One hundred and nine individuals received dry blood spot tests for HCV, 17.4% were antibody positive. Fifty one individuals met the inclusion criteria for this study. One hundred and twenty three invite‐to‐test coupons were issued; however, only one wave of recruitment consisting of one participant resulted from this method. Using RDS in historical social networks was not effective in this study and did not reach this hidden population and increase testing for HCV. This study is registered with (Ref NCT03697135).
Original languageEnglish
Article number170
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2021


  • hepatitis C
  • models of care
  • PWID
  • social networks
  • repondent-driven sampling
  • dry blood spot
  • Dry blood spot
  • Models of care
  • Social networks
  • Hepatitis C
  • Respondent-driven sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry


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