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Cash incentives make drug users more likely to get vaccinated against hepatitis

The money is paid in supermarket vouchers.

Image: Syringe via Shutterstock

SMALL CASH INCENTIVES as little as £30 are helping British health authorities get heroin addicts vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Researchers in the UK found that people undergoing treatment for heroin addiction who received a maximumof £30 supermarket vouchers in equal or graduated instalments in return for full compliance with a regimen of three vaccine injections were at least 12 times as likely to complete the course within 28 days.

That is compared to those not receiving a financial incentive, with only 9% of non-paid volunteers .

The study was led by Professor John Strang from the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London. He says that the revelation may not be startling, but the gulf between those that pay and those that don’t is.

“That monetary incentives increase compliance is unremarkable, but the size of the increase we observed was striking”, says Professor Strang.

“Injecting drug users are at high risk of infection and transmission of hepatitis B. This is a potentially life-saving vaccine, and increasing its uptake among this group has important benefits to public health, as well as to the individual.”

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The Hepatitis B virus affects about 22% of injecting drug users in the UK, and much higher proportions in other countries, including Ireland. Medication can slow the spread of HBV, but there is no completely effective cure.

Read: Irish people using cocaine less frequently, finds new research

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