Background: Prior to direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), HCV incidence rose among men who have sex with men (MSM) living with HIV infection in Germany despite high hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment rates. We establish a HCV elimination modeling framework to evaluate whether existing treatment rates can achieve the World Health Organization (WHO) incidence target among MSM living with HIV in Germany.
Methods: To evaluate progress towards HCV elimination in Germany, we adapted a previously published HCV transmission model among MSM living with diagnosed HIV. We modelled HCV incidence and prevalence until 2030 (relative to 2015) under existing treatment and DAA scale-up and explored potential impacts of disruptions in treatment and behavioral risk reduction due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Results: Continuing current treatment rates will result in stable HCV incidence among MSM living with HIV in Germany between 2015-2030. The WHO HCV incidence target is achievable under DAA scale-up to 100% treatment combined with treatment of those previously diagnosed and untreated (at a rate of 15%/year) and would result in greater reductions with early treatment (3 vs 6 months) reducing incidence from 4.0/100person-years to 0.8/100person-years by 2030. A 12-month disruption to HCV treatment (20% reduction) and risk behaviors (25%,50%,75% reduction) during the COVID-19 pandemic would result in a 15% relative increase in total HCV incidence in 2030 compared to that expected under the status quo.
Conclusions: HCV elimination among MSM living with HIV in Germany requires further DAA scale-up among those newly diagnosed combined with efforts to treat those previously diagnosed but untreated. Prospective monitoring will establish whether Germany is on track for HCV microelimination.