Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing and treatment uptake in prisons remains low. We aimed to estimate clinical outcomes, cost-effectiveness (CE), and budgetary impact (BI) of HCV testing and treatment in United States (US) prisons or linkage to care at release.
Methods: We used individual-based simulation modeling with healthcare and Department of Corrections (DOC) perspectives for CE and BI analyses, respectively. We simulated a US prison cohort at entry using published data and Washington State DOC individual-level data. We considered permutations of testing (risk factor based, routine at entry or at release, no testing), treatment (if liver fibrosis stage ≥F3, for all HCV infected or no treatment), and linkage to care (at release or no linkage). Outcomes included quality-adjusted life-years (QALY); cases identified, treated, and cured; cirrhosis cases avoided; incremental cost-effectiveness ratios; DOC costs (2016 US dollars); and BI (healthcare cost/prison entrant) to generalize to other states.
Results: Compared to "no testing, no treatment, and no linkage to care," the "test all, treat all, and linkage to care at release" model increased the lifetime sustained virologic response by 23%, reduced cirrhosis cases by 54% at a DOC annual additional cost of $1440 per prison entrant, and would be cost-effective. At current drug prices, targeted testing and liver fibrosis-based treatment provided worse outcomes at higher cost or worse outcomes at higher cost per QALY gained. In sensitivity analysis, fibrosis-based treatment restrictions were cost-effective at previous higher drug costs.
Conclusions: Although costly, widespread testing and treatment in prisons is considered to be of good value at current drug prices.
Keywords: budgetary impact; computer simulation model; cost-effectiveness; hepatitis C; prisons.
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