1Department of Gastroenterology, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD 20889, USA.
2Medical school in the Navy Bloodborne Infection Management Center, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.
3Department of Infectious Diseases, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD 20889, USA.
Introduction: Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection is a leading cause of chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, and universal screening of all adults is recommended. Treatment with new direct antiviral agents are well tolerated and highly effective and decrease morbidity and mortality from HCV. The timely treatment of active-duty Service members (SMs) is essential to prevent complications of HCV and to ensure medical readiness and safety of the Department of Defense blood supply. We performed a retrospective review of the quality of care of Navy Active Duty (AD) and reserve SMs diagnosed with HCV to assess rates of successful treatment and compliance with national guideline recommendations and identify potential challenges to receiving curative HCV therapy.
Materials and methods: A retrospective chart review was completed on the health records of 54 AD and reserve US Navy SMs diagnosed with HCV. The records were reviewed for timeliness of subspecialty evaluation, achievement of sustained virologic response (SVR), and documentation of the completion of HCV-associated recommendations from national organizations and guidelines. Challenges and barriers to care were identified.
Results: Ninety-eight percent of AD and reserve Navy SMs diagnosed with HCV were prescribed treatment, 81% achieved an SVR after completing initial treatment, which reached 92% after initial nonresponders underwent a second round of treatment. Fifty percent of SMs experienced a delay in care due mostly to military-related obligations and patient noncompliance or both. There was a small number of delays in care as a result of prolonged notification of results and referral time.
Conclusion: As HCV screening recommendations expand to include all adults, more HCV infections will be identified in both the active and reserve components. Modern HCV therapies are both relatively short in duration as well as curative, allowing for the restoration of medical readiness and military service retention. Despite these advantages, we identified challenges of effecting HCV cures in a mobile military population. We recommend centralized compliance monitoring of not only HCV force screening but also HCV treatment to ensure maximized military medical readiness.