- 124192 Sinai Infectious Disease Center, Sinai Health System, Chicago, IL, USA.
- 224192 Department of Medicine, Sinai Health System, Chicago, IL, USA.
Objective: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major threat to public health in the United States. We describe and evaluate an HCV screening and linkage-to-care program, including emergency department, inpatient, and outpatient settings, in an urban safety-net health system in Chicago.
Methods: Sinai Health System implemented a universal HCV screening program in September 2016 that offered patient navigation services (ie, linkage to care) to patients with a positive result for HCV on an RNA test. We collected data from February 1, 2017, through January 31, 2019, on patient demographic characteristics, risk factors, and various outcomes (eg, number of patients screened, test results, proportions of new diagnoses, number of patients eligible for patient navigation services, and proportion of patients who attended their first medical appointment). We also examined outcomes by patients' knowledge of infection.
Results: Of 21 018 people screened for HCV, 6% (1318/21 018) had positive test results for HCV antibody, 68% (878/1293) of whom had positive HCV RNA test results. Of these 878 patients, 68% were born during 1945-1965, 68% were male, 65% were Black, 19% were Latino, 55% were newly diagnosed, and 64% were eligible for patient navigation services. Risk factors included past or current drug use (53%), unemployment (30%), and ever incarcerated (21%). Of 562 patients eligible for navigation services, 281 (50%) were navigated to imaging services, and 203 (72%) patients who completed imaging attended their first medical appointment.
Conclusion: Patient navigation played a critical role in linkage success, but securing stable, long-term financial support for patient navigators is a challenge.