Combined COVID-19 Vaccination and Hepatitis C Virus Screening Intervention For High-Risk Populations at a Centre For Addiction Services in Barcelona, Spain

Author: Jeff Lazarus Lara Grau Maria Buti Marcela Villota-Rivas Andrea Herranz Mochales

Theme: Models of Care Year: 2022

COVID-19 has hindered efforts to address the hepatitis C virus (HCV) by reducing testing, particularly
in marginalised groups, who have some of the highest rates of HCV and lowest rates of COVID-19
Description of model of care/intervention:
We explored the acceptability of combining HCV point-of-care testing (PoCT) with COVID-19
vaccination in a centre for addiction services in Barcelona, Spain. During 20/1/2022-10/3/2022, 51
individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) were invited to get the COVID-19 vaccine along with
HCV antibody (Ab) screening. If HCV Ab+, they were offered HCV-RNA PoCT. If HCV-RNA+, patients
would be offered linkage to care.
Of the 51 participants, 80.4% were male and 88.2% Spanish-born. The mean age was 47.5 (SD: 9.7);
23.5% reported being unemployed; 29.4% an incarceration history; and 51.0% multimorbidity. Of all,
35.3% reported a past HCV infection, of which all reported that the most likely route of transmission
was injecting drug use. Only 11.8% reported a previous COVID-19 diagnosis and most (90.2%) had
been vaccinated for COVID-19, of which 89.1% had received the full first round schedule but none
had received a booster. Everyone received a Moderna vaccine without any identified adverse events
(Figure). Of the total, 70.6% were tested for HCV Ab and 19.4% were positive. Of these, all were
tested for HCV-RNA and none were positive.
Conclusion and next steps:
The intervention had an acceptability rate of 70.6% and was safe, since no adverse events to HCV
testing were reported. It also optimised participants’ time use as they would have been waiting postvaccine administration and it prevented the need for multiple visits. This approach can serve as an
example of a novel model of care to increase HCV screening and linkage to care, as needed, along
with COVID-19 vaccination, in high-risk populations. Next steps include continuing participant
Disclosure of interest statement:
MB reports advisory fees from Gilead Sciences, Abbvie, GlaxoSmithKline and Assembly Biosciences,
and speaker fees from Gilead Sciences and Abbvie, outside of the submitted work. JVL acknowledges
a grant from AbbVie to ISGlobal to fund this study, grants and speaker fees from Gilead Sciences and
MSD and speaker fees from AbbVie, Genfit, Intercept and ViiV, outside the submitted work. LG and
MV-R have nothing to disclose.

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