- 1Section of Epidemiology & Population Sciences, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.
- 2Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA.
Background: Direct-acting antiviral treatment regimens cure >95% of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, but recent studies indicate that <25% of patients in the United States receive treatment. Patients need to overcome barriers on the steps of the care continuum in order to be prescribed treatment. We aimed to examine the steps of the HCV care continuum up to prescription of HCV therapy among patients receiving care within a large safety net health care system in Houston, Texas.
Methods: We used electronic medical records to identify patients with positive screening tests for HCV antibodies between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, and abstracted data on their advancement through the care continuum for HCV. We used logistic regression to identify factors associated with patient navigation through the continuum.
Results: Of the 2450 patients screening positive for HCV antibodies, 2016 (82.3%) received quantitative RNA testing, of whom 1081 (53.6%) exhibited chronic infection. Providers referred 915 (84.6%) to specialty care for evaluation, 540 of these patients (50.0%) received their specialist evaluation, and 299 (27.7%) received a prescription for treatment. Patients with history of substance use were less likely to be prescribed treatment (adjusted odds ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.49-0.88).
Conclusions: We found substantial attrition at each stage of the HCV care continuum. In particular, history of substance abuse was a predictor of nonprescription. Challenges in the care continuum motivate increased provider education as well as the adoption of recent innovations in patient care.