Hepatitis C Virus Testing Uptake Among Hospitalized People Who Inject Drugs: Opportunities to Enhance the HCV Care Continuum

Author: Maja Skaland Ane-Kristine Finbråten Tom Ivar Lund Nilsen Olav Dalgard Håvard Midgard

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2022

Hospitalization can be an opportunity for HCV testing among people who inject drugs (PWID). Prior
to a trial of immediate HCV treatment among hospitalized PWID (OPPORTUNI-C) we launched a
campaign targeting hospital staff to increase awareness of HCV infection. The aim of this study was
to assess HCV testing uptake before and after the campaign.
A random sample of individuals with a history of injecting drug use admitted for inpatient care at
departments of internal medicine and psychiatry, Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital, within calendar
years 2018 (before campaign) and 2020 (after campaign) were identified by relevant ICD-10 codes
for injecting drug use and injection-related infectious diseases. Injecting drug use was confirmed by
review of the electronic patient files. Data on HCV testing, socio-demographics, drug- and alcohol
use, and discharge diagnoses were registered.
Testing uptake during hospitalization increased from 35% (43 of 122) in 2018 to 56% (70 of 126) in
2020 (OR 2.4; 95% CI 1.4-4.0). The increase in testing was more pronounced in psychiatry (OR 3.0;
95% CI 1.4-6.4) than in internal medicine (OR 2.0; 95% CI 0.95-4.2). HCV testing in 2018 was
associated with current opioid agonist treatment (OR 3.4; 95% CI 1.3-8.7) while testing in 2020 was
associated with increasing number of hospital admissions that year (OR 1.8 per admission; 95% CI
1.3-2.6). Testing was not associated with age, gender, housing status, nor recent injecting drug use.
Improved testing was most prominent among amphetamine users, increasing from 24% (10 of 41) in
2018 to 52% (25 of 48) in 2020. HCV RNA prevalence among tested individuals decreased from 23%
(10 of 43) in 2018 to 13% (9 of 58) in 2020.
HCV testing uptake increased among hospitalized PWID following an HCV awareness campaign.
Hospitalization is an excellent opportunity to improve HCV testing uptake among PWID.
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
OD has received lecture fees from Abbvie and research grants from Abbvie and MSD. HM has received
lecture fees from Abbvie, Gilead and MSD. MS has received lecture fees from Abbvie. No
pharmaceutical grants were received in the development of this study.

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