With the approval of 2 direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) in 2011 and anticipation of interferon (IFN)-free regimens, more hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronically infected patients are now seeking treatment. To describe the characteristics of newly referred HCV patients in 2011-2012 (Era-2) and compare them to those seen in 1998-1999 (Era-1). Retrospective data were collected from HCV patients newly referred to our tertiary liver clinics. Advanced liver disease was defined as cirrhosis (based on histology or Aspartate aminotransferase-platelet-ratio index (APRI) >2), hepatic decompensation or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A total of 1348 patients (538 in Era-1, 810 in Era-2) were included. Compared to Era-1, Era-2 patients were older (median age 56 vs 45 years), more likely to be black (17.2% vs 11.6%) and had a longer interval between diagnosis and referral (median 4 vs 2 years). Genotype (GT) 1 predominated in both Eras with a significant increase in GT1a from 39.9% in Era-1 to 53.8% in Era-2. A higher per cent of patients in Era-2 were treatment experienced, but 77% had never received treatment. Era-2 patients were more likely to have advanced disease at referral (61.6% vs 51.5%, P < 0.001), with an eightfold higher prevalence of HCC (21.6% vs 2.6%, P < 0.001). HCV patients newly referred in recent years were older, predominantly infected with GT1a and had more advanced liver disease yet only a quarter had received HCV treatment. Reduction in HCV disease burden will require development of treatment regimens targeted towards patients in the current Era as well as increase in diagnosis and referral of patients for treatment.
Keywords: hepatitis C; hepatitis C treatment; hepatocellular carcinoma.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.