Short article: Alcohol and substance use, race, and insurance status predict nontreatment for hepatitis C virus in the era of direct acting antivirals
Direct acting antivirals (DAAs) have overcome many long-standing medical barriers to hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment (i.e. host characteristics and medical contraindications) and treatment outcome disparities that were associated with interferon regimens. The public health and clinical benefit of current and forthcoming DAA discoveries will be limited if efforts are not made to examine racial, psychological, and socioeconomic factors associated with being treated with DAAs. This study examined racial, psychological, and socioeconomic factors that facilitate and inhibit patients receiving DAAs for HCV.Patients and methods
This was a single-center retrospective cohort study at a large urban tertiary center of patients (n=747) who were referred for evaluation and treatment of HCV.Results
Sixty-eight percent of patients were non-Hispanic White, 31% were African American, and 1% were of other ethnicities. The majority of patients received treatment, but 29% (218/747) did not. Patients who were older [odds ratio (OR)=1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.01–1.04] and insured (OR=2.73, 95% CI: 1.12–6.97) were more likely to receive HCV treatment. Patients who were African American (OR=0.46, 95% CI: 0.46–1.06), used drugs (OR=0.09, 95% CI: 0.04–0.17), smoked (OR=0.55, 95% CI: 0.37–0.81), and used alcohol (OR=0.11, 95% CI: 0.06–0.20) were less likely to receive HCV treatment.Conclusion
Though DAAs have eliminated many historically, long-standing medical barriers to HCV treatment, several racial, psychological and socioeconomic barriers, and disparities remain. Consequently, patients who are African American, uninsured, and actively use drugs and alcohol will suffer from increased HCV-related morbidity and mortality in the coming years if deliberate public health and clinical efforts are not made to facilitate access to DAAs.