Curing Hepatitis C Virus Infection: Best Practices From the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

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Abstract

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the nation's largest care provider for hepatitis C virus (HCV)–infected patients and is uniquely suited to inform national efforts to eliminate HCV. An extensive array of delivery of services, policy guidance, outreach efforts, and funding has broadened the reach and capacity of the VA to deliver direct-acting antiviral (DAA) HCV therapy, supported by an infrastructure to effectively implement change and informed by extensive population health data analysis. The VA has treated more than 92 000 HCV-infected veterans since all-oral DAAs became available in January 2014, with cure rates exceeding 90%; only 51 000 veterans in VA care are known to remain potentially eligible for treatment. Key actions advancing the VA's aggressive treatment of HCV infection that are germane to non-VA settings include expansion of treatment capacity through the use of nonphysician providers, video telehealth, and electronic technologies; expansion of integrated care to address psychiatric and substance use comorbidities; and electronic data tools for patient tracking and outreach. A critical component of effective implementation has been building infrastructure through the creation of regional multidisciplinary HCV Innovation Teams, whose system redesign efforts have produced innovative HCV practice models addressing gaps in care while providing more efficient and effective HCV management for the populations they serve. Financing for HCV treatment and infrastructure resources coupled with reduced drug prices has been paramount to the VA's success in curing HCV infection. The VA is poised to share and extend best practices to other health care organizations and providers delivering HCV care, contributing to a concerted effort to reduce the overall burden of HCV infection.

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