People who use drugs are a key population in global HCV control. We evaluated the efficacy of an innovative model to eliminate HCV infection in a high-risk population of PWUD in a service for substance use disorder (SUD). Between January 2018 and December 2018, we conducted a prospective, interventional, before and after study, based on audits performed by Infectious Diseases physicians in a SUD facility in Piedimonte Matese, in southern Italy, to improve the knowledge about HCV infection; a shared protocol for screening and linkage to care of patients was implemented. The pre-intervention period was defined as January-December 2017 and the post-intervention period as January-December 2018. The subjects followed up at SUD facility in the pre-intervention and post-intervention periods were 318 and 275, respectively. Compared with the pre-intervention period, the number of anti-HCV-positive subjects tested for HCV RNA was higher in the post-intervention period (91% vs 27%, P < .0001), as was the number who started directly acting antivirals (DAAs). Of the 18 HCV RNA-positive subjects in the pre-intervention period, only 3 (16.6%) started DAA, a percentage decisively lower than that observed after the start of the programme, 63 (84%) of 75 subjects (P < .0001), and all obtained SVR. The data were similar for people who inject drugs (PWID) and non-PWID sub-populations. The use of our innovative model with close interaction between the Infectious Disease Unit and the SUD facility determined a significant increase in HCV RNA testing, linkage to care and the start of DAA in the PWUD population.
Keywords: DAA; HCV elimination; HCV infection; HCV micro-elimination; PWID; PWUD.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.