Background: Microelimination of hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may be feasible in Australia, given unrestricted access to direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy from 2016. Our aim was to evaluate progress towards elimination goals within HIV/HCV-coinfected adults in Australia following universal DAA access.
Methods: The CEASE prospective cohort study enrolled adults with HIV/HCV, irrespective of viremic status, from 14 primary and tertiary clinics in Australia. Annual and cumulative HCV treatment uptake, outcome, and HCV RNA prevalence were evaluated, with follow-up through May 2018 (median follow-up, 2.63 years). Factors associated with DAA uptake were analyzed.
Results: Between July 2014 and March 2017, 402 participants who were HIV/HCV antibody positive were enrolled (95% male [80% gay and bisexual men,], 13% cirrhosis, 80% history of injecting drug use [39% currently injecting]). Following universal DAA access, annual HCV treatment uptake in those eligible increased from 7% and 11% per year in 2014 and 2015, respectively, to 80% in 2016. By 2018, cumulative HCV treatment uptake in those ever eligible for treatment was 91% (336/371). HCV viremic prevalence declined from 82% (95% CI, 78-86%) in 2014 to 8% (95% CI, 6-12%) in 2018. Reinfection was reported in only 5 participants for a reinfection incidence of 0.81 per 100 person-years (95% CI, 0.34-1.94).
Conclusions: High uptake and effectiveness of unrestricted DAA therapy in Australia have permitted rapid treatment scale-up, with a dramatic reduction in HCV infection burden and low reinfection rate among people living with HIV, suggesting that microelimination is feasible.
Clinical trials registration: NCT02102451.
Keywords: HIV; elimination; hepatitis C; men-who-have-sex-with-men; treatment-as-prevention.
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