Reasons for not commencing direct-acting antiviral treatment despite unrestricted access for individuals with HIV and hepatitis C virus: a multinational, prospective cohort study

Elsevier, The Lancet Public Health, Volume 8, April 2023
Isfordink C.J., Boyd A., Sacks-Davis R., van Santen D.K., Smit C., Martinello M. et al.

Background: Individuals with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) who remain untreated with direct-acting antivirals can contribute to HCV transmission and HCV-related mortality. We aimed to compare rates of uptake of direct-acting antivirals following unrestricted access to this treatment in high-income countries and examine factors associated with remaining untreated. Methods: This multinational, prospective cohort study used data from the International Collaboration on Hepatitis C Elimination in HIV Cohorts (InCHEHC). We analysed data from nine observational cohorts participating in the InCHEHC, including data from six high-income countries (Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland). We included individuals aged 18 years and older, with HIV and HCV (ie, HCV-RNA positive without evidence of spontaneous clearance) during unrestricted access to interferon-free direct-acting antiviral treatment in each country. We calculated the cumulative proportion of participants who remained untreated with direct-acting antivirals, with follow-up starting after the date of unrestricted access or cohort inclusion, whichever occurred most recently. Factors associated with the commencement rate of direct-acting antiviral treatment were assessed using competing-risks regression with the Fine-Gray method. Findings: The date of unrestricted access to direct-acting antiviral treatment for people with HIV ranged from Nov 1, 2014, in France to Nov 1, 2017, in Switzerland. We included 4552 individuals with HIV–HCV, mainly men who have sex with men (MSM; n=2156 [47%]) and people who inject or have injected drugs (n=1453 [32%]). 1365 (30%) of 4552 participants remained untreated with direct-acting antivirals. For individuals treated with direct-acting antivirals, median time from start of follow-up to treatment was 5 months (IQR 2–12). For individuals who were not treated with direct-acting antivirals, median follow-up was 22 months (8–30). Being linked to care in Australia, France, or the Netherlands, on antiretroviral therapy, having undetectable HIV RNA, and shorter duration since first positive HCV test were independently associated with higher commencement rate of direct-acting antiviral treatment. Compared with MSM, male heterosexuals and females with unknown or other routes of HIV transmission (ie, neither injection drug use nor heterosexual transmission) had lower rates of commencement. Interpretation: Despite unrestricted access, almost a third of individuals with HIV–HCV remained untreated with direct-acting antivirals during follow-up, with variation in commencement rate of HCV treatment between countries and key populations. Increased efforts are required to reach the remaining individuals with HIV who are HCV-viraemic to achieve HIV–HCV micro-elimination. Funding: None.