1Centre for Social Research in Health, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
2The Kirby Institute, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
3Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network, NSW Health, Matraville, New South Wales, Australia.
Background and aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is highly prevalent within the prison setting. Although HCV testing and treatment are available within prisons, system barriers can impede progress along the HCV care cascade for those who are incarcerated. The PIVOT intervention used a 'one-stop-shop' model (i.e. point-of-care HCV RNA testing, Fibroscan-based liver disease assessment and treatment) at a reception prison in New South Wales, Australia. This analysis sought to understand the role of point-of-care HCV RNA testing at intake in reducing barriers to the HCV care cascade within the male prison setting.
Design and setting: Qualitative analysis using semi-structured interviews in a reception prison in Australia.
Participants: Twenty-four men enrolled in the PIVOT study; all participants had undergone HCV point-of-care testing in the intervention arm.
Measurements: Høj's Integrated Framework informed this analysis.
Findings: Participants widely expressed the view that point-of-care HCV RNA testing on entry was beneficial for care engagement. Point-of-care testing was perceived as timely (compared with standard pathology) and reduced opportunities for adjudication by correctional officers due to fewer clinic visits for testing and results. Adoption of routine opt-out testing at prison intake was regarded as an important strategy for normalising HCV testing (and likely to increase pathways to treatment uptake) and fostered patient candidacy (i.e. self-perceived eligibility to access care).
Conclusion: Twenty-four men in prison in New South Wales, Australia, who underwent opt-out point-of-care HCV RNA testing on entry into prison, widely supported the programme as a means of overcoming barriers to HCV testing and treatment in the prison setting, as well as providing public health benefits through early detection of HCV infection among people entering into custody.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04809246.