Resolution: Eradication of Hepatitis C

Eradication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is going to be difficult despite the huge improvements in treatment.  One obstacle that has been highlighted previously has been the increase in HCV transmission associated with the opioid epidemic.  Another basic problem is establishing a ‘cascade of care’ that makes sure that those with HCV receive appropriate treatment and followup.

In a recent study (RL Epstein et al. J Pediatr 2018; 203: 34-40, editoria by KB Schwarz, W Karnsakul 7-8) describe the deficiencies in the followup of women in an obstetric clinic serving women with substance use disorders. The authors reviewed electronic records of 879 women over a 10 year period.  Key findings:

  • 85% of women were screened for HCV.  Of the 68% who were seropositive, only 72% had HCV RNA testing and 71% were viremic.
  • There were 404 infants born to women who were HCVB seropositive.  Only 45% of these infants completed AAP-recommended perinatal HCV screening.

In the commentary, the authors point to the suboptimal rates of followup.  They note that there is a “huge gap between infected women and the linkage of their infected progency to care.” Furthermore, the AASLD has recommended that “all children with HCV infection in age groups for which direct-acting antiviral agents are approved should be treated.”

My take: this study identifies gaps in followup and treatment that need to be addressed systematically if we are to realize the goal of HCV eradication.

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