1Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
2Sisters Together and Reaching, Incorporated, Baltimore, MD, USA.
3Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
4Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
5Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
An estimated 3.5 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, the majority are unaware of their HCV diagnosis and few are treated. New models are required to diagnose and link HCV infected patients to HCV care. This paper describes an innovative partnership between Sisters Together and Reaching (STAR), Inc., a community organization, and Johns Hopkins University (JHU), an academic institution, for the identification of HCV cases.
STAR and JHU identified a mutual interest in increasing hepatitis C screening efforts and launched an HCV screening program which was designed to enhance STAR's existing HIV efforts. STAR and JHU used the Bergen Model of Collaborative Functioning as theoretical framework for the partnership. We used descriptive statistics to characterize the study population and correlates of HCV antibody positivity were reported in univariable/multivariable logistic regression.
From July 2014 to June 2015, 325 rapid HCV antibody tests were performed in community settings with 49 (15%) positive HCV antibody tests. 33 of the 49 HCV antibody positive individuals answered questions about their HCV testing history and 42% reported a prior positive result but were not engaged in care and 58% reported that they were unaware of their HCV status. In multivariable analysis, factors that were significantly associated with screening HCV antibody positive were increasing age (AOR: 1.06, 95% CI 1.02-1.10), male sex (AOR: 5.56, 95% CI 1.92-14.29), and history of injection drug use (AOR: 39.3, 95% CI 15.20-101.49).
The community-academic partnership was successful in identifying individuals with hepatitis C infection through a synergistic collaboration. The program data suggests that community screening may improve the hepatitis C care continuum by identifying individuals unaware of their HCV status or aware of their HCV status but not engaged in care and linking them to care.