Targeted HCV core antigen monitoring among HIV-positive men who have sex with men is cost-saving

J Virus Erad. 2019 Nov 4;5(4):179-190.


Introduction: The World Health Organization declared the goal of hepatitis C virus (HCV) elimination by 2030. Micro-elimination, which is the reduction of incidence to zero in targeted populations, is less complex and costly and may be the first step to prove whether elimination is feasible. A suitable target group are HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) because of their high-risk behaviour and high incidence rates. Moreover, HCV monitoring is integrated in HIV care. The current HCV monitoring approach is suboptimal and complex and may miss new HCV infections. Alternative monitoring strategies, based on alanine aminotransferase, HCV-PCR and HCV-core antigen (HCV-cAg), combined with immediate direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment, may be more effective in reducing new HCV infections.

Methods: A deterministic mathematical transmission model was constructed representing the Dutch HCV epidemic among HIV-positive MSM to compare different HCV monitoring strategies from 2018 onwards. We evaluated the epidemiological impact of alternative and intensified monitoring in MSM with HCV. In addition, the cost-effectiveness was calculated over a lifetime horizon.

Results: Current HCV monitoring and treatment is projected to result in an incidence of 1.1/1000 person-years, 0.24% prevalence, at a cost of €61.8 million (interquartile range 52.2-73.9). Compared with current monitoring, intensified monitoring will result in a maximum 27% reduction of incidence and 33% in prevalence at an increased cost. Conversely, compared with current monitoring, targeted HCV-cAg monitoring will result in a comparable incidence (1.1/1000 person-years) and prevalence (0.23%) but will be €1 million cheaper with increased quality-adjusted life year.

Conclusion: Targeted monitoring reduces the HCV epidemic in a cost-saving manner; however, micro-elimination may not be obtained by 2030, highlighting the need for harm-reduction programmes.

Keywords: HIV; cost-effectiveness; diagnostics; elimination; hepatitis C; men who have sex with men.

Publication types

  • Editorial