Intravenous drug use and sexual practices account for 60% of hepatitis C (HCV) and B (HBV) infection. Disclosing these activities can be embarrassing and reduce risk reporting, blood testing and diagnosis. In diagnosed patients, linkage to care remains a challenge. Audio-computer-assisted survey interview (Audio-CASI) was used to guide HCV and HBV infection testing in urban clinics. Risk reporting, blood testing and serology results were compared to historical controls. A patient navigator (PN) followed up blood test results and provided patients with positive serology linkage to care (LTC). Of 1932 patients surveyed, 574 (30%) were at risk for chronic viral hepatitis. A total of 254 (44.3%) patients were tested, 34 (13.5%) had serology warranting treatment evaluation, and 64% required HBV vaccination. Of 16 patients with infection, seven HCV and three HBV patients started treatment following patient LTC. Of 146 HBV-naïve patients, 70 completed vaccination. About 75% and 49% of HCV antibody and HBV surface antigen-positive patients were born between 1945 and 1965. Subsequently, automated HCV testing of patients born between 1945 and 1965 was built into our hospital electronic medical records. Average monthly HCV antibody testing increased from 245 (January-June) to 1187 (July-October). Patient navigator directed LTC for HCV antibody-positive patients was 61.6%. In conclusion, audio-CASI can identify patients at risk for HCV or HBV infection and those in need of HBV vaccination in urban medical clinics. Although blood testing once a patient is identified at risk for infection needs to increase, a PN is useful to provide LTC of newly diagnosed patients.
Keywords: audio-CASI; blood testing; hepatitis; linkage to care; patient navigation; risk; screening.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.