Evaluation of immigration status, race and language barriers on chronic hepatitis C virus infection management and treatment outcomes

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ObjectiveHepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence in certain Canadian immigrant populations is higher than that of the overall population. Disparities in care related to immigration status as well as to race and language are well recognized. Identifying and understanding these disparities is vital to the provision of optimal and inclusive HCV care.Methods and materialsHCV RNA-positive patients assessed at The Ottawa Hospital Viral Hepatitis Clinic between June 2000 and June 2007 were identified using a clinical database. As measures of access to care, liver biopsy rates, treatment initiation rates, supportive care provision (i.e. erythropoietin for treatment-related anemia) and sustained virological response (SVR) rates were assessed as a function of immigration status, race and spoken language.ResultsNine hundred and ten patients were evaluated, of which 20% were immigrants. Biopsy rates (54 vs. 51%), HCV treatment initiation (37 vs. 38%), erythropoietin prescription (13 vs. 18%) and SVR rates (52 vs. 51%) did not differ between immigrants and Canadian-born individuals. Spoken language and race did not influence access to treatment. SVR was predicted by genotype, HIV status and race.ConclusionIn the context of a multidisciplinary, multilingual universal health care system, by studying the influence of barriers to HCV investigation and successful therapy can be abrogated.

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