NORC at the University of Chicago, 4350 East-West Hwy, 8th Fl, Bethesda, MD 20814. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Effective screening, diagnosis, and treatment are needed to reduce chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection-associated morbidity and mortality. In order to successfully increase HCV treatment, it is necessary to identify and understand gaps in linkage of antibody-positive patients with newly identified HCV to subsequent HCV RNA testing, clinical evaluation, and treatment.
To estimate attainment of HCV care cascade steps among antibody-positive patients with newly identified HCV, we conducted chart reviews of patients with a new positive HCV antibody test at 3 academic medical centers participating in the Birth-Cohort Evaluation to Advance Screening and Testing of Hepatitis C (BEST-C) study.
We tracked receipt of RNA testing, clinical evaluation, treatment initiation, and treatment completion among individuals born between 1945 and 1965 who were newly diagnosed as HCV antibody-positive between December 2012 and October 2015 at 3 BEST-C centers, predominantly from the participating medical centers' primary care practices and emergency departments.
Of the 130 HCV-seropositive individuals identified, 118 (91%) had an RNA or genotype test, 75 (58%) were RNA-positive, 73 (56%) were linked to care, 22 (17% overall; 29% among RNA-positive) started treatment, and 21 (16%; 28% among RNA-positive) completed treatment.
This analysis showed that although linkage to care was largely successful in the target birth cohort, the largest gap in the HCV care cascade was seen in initiating treatment. Greater emphasis on linking patients to clinical evaluation and treatment is necessary in order to achieve the public health benefits promised by birth-cohort testing.