Hepatitis C management: the challenge of dropout associated with male sex and injection drug use


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Abstract

BackgroundAnecdotal reports of poor patient compliance with hepatitis C disease management exist yet little data are available on the true rates of dropout.AimsTo examine all referrals made to an urban tertiary care liver centre for hepatitis C virus (HCV) management, track subsequent progress and identify dropout trends.MethodsA cross-sectional retrospective review was conducted to examine the HCV referrals received on 2000 through 2007. The demographic, clinical and treatment data were derived from medical charts and the hospital information system.ResultsA total of 588 individuals were referred for HCV disease management. The repeated referrals yielded 742 cases for analysis. Of the 742 referrals received, 141 (19%) failed to attend their initial appointment, 180 dropped out from early outpatient management, 29 failed to attend liver biopsy and 81 defected from subsequent outpatient follow-up. In total, 451 (61%) dropouts occurred. In those treated, a sustained viral response rate of 74% was observed (18/30 genotype 1; 4/5 genotype 2; 40/49 genotype 3). Statistically significant associations between history of injection drug use and dropout immediately after the referral (P<0.001), dropout from early outpatient management (P<0.001) and dropout over entire span of disease management (P<0.001) were observed. Male sex was also associated with dropout from disease management (P<0.05).ConclusionsAn exceptionally high rate of dropout exists within the HCV disease management framework, particularly in the early stages of service delivery. Dropout was associated with sex and positive history of injection drug use. The study findings have led to the development of innovative approaches helping to optimize the disease management in this population. These developments are discussed.

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