Renal Section, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Division of Nephrology and Transplant Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is prevalent in patients with kidney disease including transplant candidates and recipients. It is associated with increased morbidity and mortality in end-stage renal disease patients and also increases the risk of allograft rejection and decreases allograft and patient survival post-transplant. Newly developed direct acting antivirals have revolutionized the way HCV is treated. Whether patients are treated before or after kidney transplantation, the cure rates with direct acting antivirals are >90%. Great debate has formed revolving the optimal timing to treat kidney transplant candidates. On the one hand, treatment before transplantation decreases early post-transplant complications related to HCV. On the other, postponing treatment until after transplantation opens the possibility of transplanting a kidney from a HCV positive donor, which is associated with shorter waiting time and improved organ utilization by expanding the organ donor pool. Most patients living in an area where waiting time is reduced by accepting an HCV positive kidney would benefit by the strategy of treatment post-transplantation, but this decision needs to be individualized in a patient-by-patient basis given that there are special circumstances (i.e., severe HCV-related extrahepatic manifestations, availability of live donors, etc.) in which treatment before transplant might be preferred.