Publications & Reports

Real-world monitoring progress towards the elimination of hepatitis C virus in Australia using sentinel surveillance of primary care clinics; an ecological study of hepatitis C virus antibody tests from 2009 to 2019.

Wilkinson AL, Pedrana A, Traeger MW, Asselin J, El-Hayek C, Nguyen L, Polkinghorne V, Doyle JS, Thompson AJ, Howell J, Scott N, Dimech W, Guy R, Hellard M, Stoové M; EC Victoria Partnership and the Australian Collaboration for Coordinated Enhanced Sentinel Surveillance of blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections (ACCESS)

Abstract

To achieve the elimination of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), sustained and sufficient levels of HCV testing is critical. The purpose of this study was to assess trends in testing and evaluate the effectiveness of strategies to diagnose people living with HCV. Data were from 12 primary care clinics in Victoria, Australia, that provide targeted services to people who inject drugs (PWID), alongside general health care. This ecological study spanned 2009–2019 and included analyses of trends in annual numbers of HCV antibody tests among individuals with no previous positive HCV antibody test recorded and annual test yield (positive HCV antibody tests/all HCV antibody tests). Generalised linear models estimated the association between count outcomes (HCV antibody tests and positive HCV antibody tests) and time, and χ2 test assessed the trend in test yield. A total of 44 889 HCV antibody tests were conducted 2009–2019; test numbers increased 6% annually on average [95% confidence interval (CI) 4–9]. Test yield declined from 2009 (21%) to 2019 (9%) (χ2 P = <0.01). In more recent years (2013–2019) annual test yield remained relatively stable. Modest increases in HCV antibody testing and stable but high test yield within clinics delivering services to PWID highlights testing strategies are resulting in people are being diagnosed however further increases in the testing of people at risk of HCV or living with HCV may be needed to reach Australia’s HCV elimination goals.

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