1Drexel University College of Medicine and Drexel University Physicians Practice Plan, Philadelphia, PA, United States.
2Urban Health Collaborative, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, United States.
3Department of Health Management and Policy, Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, United States.
Among patients of an urban primary care network in Philadelphia with a universal hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening policy for patients born during 1945-1965, we examined whether being unscreened and HCV positivity were associated with attributes of the census tracts where patients resided, which we considered as proxies for social health determinants. For patients with at least one clinic visit between 2014 and mid-2017, we linked demographic and HCV screening information from electronic health records with metrics that described the census tracts where patients resided. We used generalized estimating equations to estimate adjusted relative risk ratios (aRRs) for being unscreened and HCV positive. Overall, 28% of 6,906 patients were unscreened. Black race, male gender, and residence in census tracts with relatively high levels of violent crime, low levels of educational attainment and household incomes, and evidence of residential segregation by Hispanic ethnicity were associated with lower aRRs for being unscreened. Among screened patients, 9% were HCV positive. Factors associated with lower risks of being unscreened were, in general, associated with higher HCV positivity. Attributes of census tracts where patients reside are probably less apparent to clinicians than patients' gender or race but might reflect unmeasured patient characteristics that affected screening practices, along with preconceptions regarding the likelihood of HCV infection based on prior screening observations or implicit biases. Approaching complete detection of HCV-infected people would be hastened by focusing on residents of census tracts with attributes associated with higher infection levels or, if known, higher infection levels directly.