Rapid hepatitis C virus point-of-care RNA testing and treatment at an integrated supervised consumption service in Toronto, Canada: a prospective, observational cohort study

Elsevier, Lancet Regional Health - Americas, Volume 22, June 2023
Lettner B., Mason K., Greenwald Z.R., Broad J., Mandel E., Feld J.J. et al.

Background: Despite high burden of Hepatitis C (HCV) among people who inject drugs, significant barriers to care persist. The aim of this study was to evaluate the provision of rapid, low-barrier point-of-care (POC) HCV RNA testing and linkage to care among clients of a supervised consumption service (SCS) located within a community health centre in Toronto, Canada. Secondary aims included measuring HCV RNA prevalence at baseline, HCV incidence during follow-up and exploring factors associated with HCV RNA positivity and treatment uptake. Methods: Participants were enrolled in a prospective, observational cohort from August 13, 2018 to September 30, 2021. Those with positive HCV RNA tests were offered immediate referral to onsite treatment. Those with negative results were offered repeat testing every three months for up to four visits. HCV incidence was estimated as the number of incident HCV infections per 100 person-years at risk, among those HCV RNA negative at baseline who returned for ≥1 follow-up visit. Missing data were reported when present. Findings: 128 participants were enrolled with four later removed due to ineligibility. At baseline, 54 of 124 eligible participants (43.5%) tested HCV RNA positive. HCV incidence was 35.1 cases per 100 person-years (95% CI: 18.9–65.3) with a cumulative incidence of 38.3% at 15 months of follow-up. Among participants HCV RNA positive at baseline or follow-up (n = 64), 67.2% (n = 43) were linked to HCV care and treatment was initiated among 67.4% (n = 29/43). Interpretation: High HCV RNA prevalence and incidence demonstrate that the SCS serves a high-risk population for HCV. Testing acceptance was high, as was treatment engagement. POC HCV RNA testing positions SCSs as an important point of HCV care access. Funding: HCV Micro-Elimination Grant, Gilead Sciences Canada; in-kind support from Cepheid.