An analysis from British Columbia, Canada shows that older people, individuals with HIV co-infection, people with cirrhosis and – to some extent – injecting drugs users have been significantly more likely to receive directly acting antiviral treatments, compared to the older interferon-based treatments. The findings show that in the current era, treatment uptake has improved for groups who tended not to receive interferon-based treatments, Naveed Janjua and colleagues write in the August issue of the Journal of Viral Hepatitis.
However individuals living in economically deprived neighbourhoods remained significantly less likely to receive treatment, although healthcare is publicly funded and free of charge to patients in British Columbia.
In the era of interferon-based treatments for hepatitis C, the rate of treatment uptake was low (below 15%) and especially so for certain population groups, including people living with HIV and people who inject drugs. Some of the barriers to treatment included increased side-effects and healthcare providers’ expectations of poor adherence. The availability of short course, highly effective and well-tolerated direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) could be expected to remove barriers and increase treatment rates.