BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most prevalent blood-borne infection and causes more deaths than any other infectious disease in the US. Incident HCV infection in the US increased nearly 300% between 2010 and 2015, Community viral load (CVL) measures have been developed for HIV to measure both transmission risk and treatment engagement in programs or areas.
OBJECTIVE: This paper presents a systematic review exploring the published literature on CVL constructs applied to HCV epidemiology and proposes novel CVL measures for HCV.
STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: A systematic review was conducted of electronic databases; the search sought to identify published literature on HCV which discussed or applied CVL measures to HCV epidemiology. Novel CVL measures were constructed to apply to HCV.
RESULTS: No reports examining quantitative measures of HCV CVL were identified. Using the HIV CVL literature and the specific characteristics of HCV epidemiology, five HCV CVL measures are proposed. Narrower measures focusing on those engaged-in-care may be useful for program evaluation and broader measures including undiagnosed people may be useful for surveillance of HCV transmission potential.
CONCLUSION: Despite their potential value, CVL constructs have not yet formally been developed and applied to HCV epidemiology. The CVL measures proposed here could serve as valuable HCV program and surveillance measures. There is a need for informative surveillance measures to enhance policy and public health responses to achieve HCV control. Further study of these proposed HCV CVL measures to HCV epidemiology is warranted.
Community viral load and hepatitis C virus infection: Community viral load measures to aid public health treatment efforts and program evaluation
Journal of Clinical Virology, 124, 104285. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2020.104285.