Introduction: Because of its lack of clinical signs, the detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the Netherlands remains suboptimal. Therefore, the Dutch Health Council proposed an HCV campaign aimed to inform the general public and motivate people at risk to seek medical advice. Because knowledge and awareness of HCV infection is low among primary care workers, the implementation of a support programme for primary care complementary to a HCV campaign seems appropriate.
Objective: To evaluate the added value of a support programme for primary care complementary to a public HCV campaign.
Methods: We performed a non-randomized controlled intervention study. In two similar regions, a public HCV campaign was organized. In the intervention region, an additional support for primary care was provided by means of brochures, short courses and informative visits.
Results: In the intervention region, the proportional increase in anti-HCV tests was 3.02 (57-172 tests). In the control region, this increase was 1.36 (86-118 tests). In the intervention region, the increase in positive anti-HCV tests was 1.7% (95% confidence interval (CI): -0.2% to -3.7%). In the control region, this number decreased by 0.9% (95% CI: -4.1% to 2.3%).
Conclusions: The addition of primary care practice support leads to considerable improvements in medical consciousness regarding HCV infection in primary care. Even though the positive effect on case finding cannot be indisputably demonstrated due to low prevalence, our results indicate such a positive effect. Therefore, future campaigns aimed at hepatitis C should invariably implement additional support for primary care to improve diagnostic uptake and optimize case finding.