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Single-visit hepatitis C point-of-care testing, linkage to nursing care, and peer-supported treatment among people with recent injecting drug use at a peer-led needle and syringe program: The TEMPO Pilot Study
Int J Drug Policy. 2023 Feb 27;114:103982. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2023.103982.Online ahead of print.
1The Kirby Institute, UNSW, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: email@example.com.
2Kirketon Road Centre, South Eastern Local Health District, Sydney, Australia.
3NSW Users and AIDS Association, Sydney, Australia.
4The Kirby Institute, UNSW, Sydney, Australia.
5The Kirby Institute, UNSW, Sydney, Australia; Kirketon Road Centre, South Eastern Local Health District, Sydney, Australia.
Background: Point-of-care hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA testing can facilitate single-visit diagnosis and treatment. This study evaluated a single-visit test and treat intervention integrating point-of-care HCV RNA testing, linkage to nursing care, and peer-supported engagement/delivery of treatment among people with recent injecting drug use at a peer-led needle and syringe program (NSP).
Methods: TEMPO Pilot is an interventional cohort study of people with recent injecting drug use (previous month) recruited between September 2019-February 2021 from one peer-led NSP in Sydney, Australia. Participants received point-of-care HCV RNA testing (Xpert HCV Viral Load Fingerstick), linkage to nursing care, and peer-supported engagement/delivery of treatment. The primary endpoint was the proportion initiating HCV therapy.
Results: Among 101 people with recent injecting drug use (median age 43; 31% female), 27% (n = 27) were HCV RNA detectable. Treatment uptake was 74% (20 of 27; sofosbuvir/velpatasvir, n = 8; glecaprevir/pibrentasvir, n = 12). Among people initiating treatment (n = 20), 45% (n = 9) initiated treatment at the same visit, 50% (n = 10) in the next 1-2 days, and 5% on day 7 (n = 1). Two participants initiated treatment outside the study (overall treatment uptake 81%). Reasons for not initiating treatment included loss to follow-up (n = 2), no reimbursement (n = 1), not suitable for treatment (mental health) (n = 1), and inability to perform liver disease assessment (n = 1). In the full analysis set, 60% (12 of 20) completed treatment and 40% (8 of 20) had a sustained virological response (SVR). In the evaluable population (excluding people without an SVR test), SVR was 89% (8 of 9).
Conclusion: Point-of-care HCV RNA testing, linkage to nursing, and peer-supported engagement/delivery led to high HCV treatment uptake (majority single-visit) among people with recent injecting drug use attending a peer-led NSP. The lower proportion of people with SVR highlights the need for further interventions to support treatment completion.