BACKGROUND: Micro-elimination of HCV among people living with HIV may be feasible in Australia, given unrestricted access to direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy from 2016. Our aim was to evaluate progress towards elimination goals within HIV/HCV co-infected adults in Australia following universal DAA access. METHODS: The CEASE prospective cohort study enrolled HIV/HCV positive adults, irrespective of viremic status, from 14 primary and tertiary clinics in Australia. Annual and cumulative HCV treatment uptake, outcome, and HCV RNA prevalence were evaluated, with follow-up through May 2018 (median follow-up: 2.63 years). Factors associated with DAA uptake were analysed. RESULTS: Between July 2014 and March 2017, 402 HIV/HCV antibody-positive participants were enrolled (95% male [80% gay and bisexual men,], 13% cirrhosis, 80% history of injecting drug use [39% current injecting]). Following universal DAA access, annual HCV treatment uptake in those eligible increased from 7% and 11% per year in 2014 and 2015, respectively, to 80% in 2016. By 2018, cumulative HCV treatment uptake in those ever eligible for treatment was 91% (336/371). HCV viremic prevalence declined from 82% (95%CI 78%, 86%) in 2014 to 8% (95%CI 6%, 12%) in 2018. Reinfection was reported in only five participants for a reinfection incidence of 0.81 per 100-person years (95% CI 0.34, 1.94). CONCLUSIONS: High uptake and effectiveness of unrestricted DAA therapy in Australia has permitted rapid treatment scale-up, with a dramatic reduction in HCV infection burden and low reinfection rate among people living with HIV, suggesting that micro-elimination is feasible.
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