A hepatitis C elimination model in healthcare for the homeless organization: A novel reflexive laboratory algorithm and equity assessment

A. Seaman, C. A. King, T. Kaser, A. Geduldig, W. Ronan, R. Cook, B. Chan, X. A. Levander, K. C. Priest, P. T. Korthuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Reaching World Health Organization hepatitis C (HCV) elimination targets requires diagnosis and treatment of people who use drugs (PWUD) with direct acting antivirals (DAAs). PWUD experience challenges engaging in HCV treatment, including needing multiple provider and laboratory appointments. Women, minoritized racial communities, and homeless individuals are less likely to complete treatment. Methods: We implemented a streamlined opt-out HCV screening and linkage-to-care program in two healthcare for the homeless clinics and a medically supported withdrawal center. Front-line staff initiated a single-order reflex laboratory bundle combining screening, confirmation, and pre-treatment laboratory evaluation from a single blood draw. Multinomial logistic regression models identified characteristics influencing movement through each stage of the HCV treatment cascade. Multiple logistic regression models identified patient characteristics associated with HCV care cascade progression and Cox proportional hazards models assessed time to initiation of DAAs. Results: Of 11,035 clients engaged in services between May 2017 and March 2020, 3,607 (32.7%) were screened. Of those screened, 1,020 (28.3%) were HCV PCR positive. Of those with detectable RNA, 712 (69.8%) initiated treatment and 670 (94.1%) completed treatment. Of those initiating treatment, 407 (57.2%) achieved SVR12. There were eight treatment failures and six reinfections. In the unadjusted model, the bundle intervention was associated with increased care cascade progression, and in the survival analysis, decreased time to initiation; these differences were attenuated in the adjusted model. Women were less likely to complete treatment and SVR12 labs than men. Homelessness increased likelihood of screening and diagnosis but was negatively associated with completing SVR12 labs. Presence of opioid and stimulant use disorder diagnoses predicted increased care cascade progression. Conclusions: The laboratory bundle and referral pathways improved treatment initiation, time to initiation, and movement across the cascade. Despite overall population improvements, women and homeless individuals experienced important gaps across the HCV care cascade.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103359
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Gender
  • HCV Elimination
  • Hepatitis C
  • People Who Inject Drugs
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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