BACKGROUND: Young people who inject drugs (PWID) have high hepatitis C virus (HCV) incidence and low treatment initiation rates. Novel, simplified care models need to be developed to engage, treat, and cure hard-to-reach patient populations, such as young PWID. We present final data from the randomized pilot clinical trial “HCV-Seek Test and Rapid Treatment” for curing HCV in young PWID.
METHODS: Participants were recruited from the community and eligible if they were 18-29 years of age, HCV antibody-positive, treatment naive, and had injected drugs in the past 30 days. Participants were randomized 1:1 to “Rapid Treatment or Usual Care”. Participants randomized to Rapid Treatment received same-day medical evaluation, confirmatory and baseline laboratory testing, and a 7-day starter pack of sofosbuvir/velpatasvir at a syringe service program (SSP). Participants in “Usual Care” received same-day HCV confirmatory testing at the SSP and, if positive, facilitated referral to local providers. The primary endpoint was sustained virologic response at 12 weeks (SVR12) in HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA)(+) participant.
RESULTS: Forty-seven HCV antibody-positive participants were enrolled, and 25 participants had confirmed HCV and were included in the modified intention to treat analysis, with 9 of 14 (64%) of the Rapid Treatment arm and 1 of 11 (9.1%) of the Usual Care arm achieving a confirmed SVR12 (P = .01).
CONCLUSIONS: Among young HCV RNA(+) PWID, significantly higher rates of cure were achieved using the Rapid Treatment model compared with facilitated referral. Providing easy access to HCV treatment for young PWID in low-threshold settings and initiating HCV treatment quickly appears to be a promising strategy for treating this hard-to-reach population.
Rapid treatment initiation for hepatitis C in young people who inject drugs: The seek, test, and rapid treatment randomized trial
Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 9 (7), ofac225. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofac225. PMCID: PMC9272437.