1Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
2Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire.
Importance: The success of direct-acting antiviral therapies for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection led the World Health Organization to set elimination targets by 2030. For the United States to achieve these benchmarks, public health responses must target high-risk populations, such as people who inject drugs (PWID), a group with high rates of HCV incidence and low rates of treatment uptake.
Objective: To evaluate potential improvements in the HCV care cascade among PWID, focusing on improved testing, treatment uptake, and access to harm reduction.
Design, setting, and participants: This decision analytic model used a differential equation-based dynamic transmission model based on data from New Hampshire, an illustrative state with a large number of PWID and limited HCV treatment infrastructure. Surveillance data through 2020 was used for model parameterization, and the final analysis was conducted in May 2021.
Main outcomes and measures: Model forecasts of chronic HCV cases and advanced-stage HCV outcomes from 2022 to 2045.
Results: A total of 6 scenarios were tested: (1) the base case, (2) improved harm reduction, (3) improved testing, (4) improved treatment, (5) improved testing and treatment, and (6) improved testing, treatment, and harm reduction. All scenarios with improved testing, treatment uptake, and/or access to harm reduction were associated with decreases in forecasted HCV prevalence and HCV-associated mortality compared with the base case. Improving harm reduction, testing, and treatment individually were forecast to reduce prevalence of HCV in 2045 from 69.7% in the base case to 62.8%, 45.7%, and 35.5%, respectively. Combining treatment and testing improvements was associated with a 2045 prevalence of 0.3%; adding harm reduction improvements was associated with further reductions in prevalence forecasts (to 0.2%), with fewer total treatments (10 960 vs 13 219 from 2022-2045).
Conclusions and relevance: In this modeling study, no single intervention was projected to achieve World Health Organization HCV elimination targets. Scenarios with improvements in both testing and treatment were associated with a prevalence of less than 3% by 2030 and achieved elimination targets. Adding improvements in harm reduction was associated with faster reductions in prevalence and fewer treatments.