The Liver Meeting
The Liver Meeting
November 20, 2014
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Check Hep C program effective in identifying HCV in New York

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BOSTON — The Check Hep C program, a community-based initiative in New York that focuses on finding and testing individuals with hepatitis C virus infection in high-risk populations, was effective in increasing diagnostic testing and screening of individuals and connecting them with proper services, according to data presented at The Liver Meeting.

“The primary success of the Check Hep C Program model was its effectiveness in identifying, diagnosing and linking high-risk hepatitis C infected persons to care,” researcher Mary M. Ford, of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told Healio.com/Hepatology. “With new HCV medications showing high cure rates and more tolerable side effects, there is an added imperative to diagnose HCV-infected persons and link them to care and treatment.”

Mary M. Ford

The program, which formed after the CDC recommended HCV testing, funded eight organizations from 12 community clinical sites, including federally qualified health centers, syringe exchange programs and these combined facilities, to provide testing in high-risk neighborhoods. The testing procedure consisted of “targeted outreach, point of care rapid antibody testing and, after a positive antibody test, an immediate blood draw for RNA testing,” according to the research.

Between May 2012 and April 2013, 4,751 people were tested, and of these, 880 were positive for HCV antibody. A total of 678 people positive for HCV antibody underwent RNA testing and 76% of them had HCV. Fifteen percent of all baby boomers (n=1,901) were positive for HCV. Hispanics and whites had a higher prevalence of HCV (15% and 14%, respectively) compared with blacks (7%). Twenty-five percent of individuals reported injecting drugs at some point in their lives, with 361 reporting having injected 30 days before testing. Individuals with past injection drug use had the highest risk for HCV (OR=20.6; 95% CI, 16.4-26).

Eighty-five percent of patients with HCV were seen by a physician at their first medical appointment, and as of April, more than 50% were still receiving care, according to the research.  

“The screening and diagnosis method was a successful strategy that can not only be used to implement the CDC and US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation and the New York state hepatitis C testing law, but can be replicated in other cities with similar populations,” Ford said. – by Melinda Stevens 

For more information:

Ford MM. Abstract #1448. Presented at: The Liver Meeting; Nov. 7-11, 2014; Boston.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.