Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2017
Background: There is an emerging epidemic of people who inject drugs (PWID), contract the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and fail to seek treatment for this curable illness. At least 85% of new HCV infections in the United States result from injection drug use. Our aim is to link individuals that are HCV RNA positive to care, and utilize our online patient database management system (PDMS) with our Substance Abuse Treatment Center partners to fulfill the linkage portion. Materials & Methods: Longitudinal prospective cohort study with HCV screening at treatment centers and utilization of a HIPPA compliant online patient database management system (PDMS) (www.linkagetocare.com). A centrally located Linkage to Care Specialist (LTCS) is notified immediately when an individual’s information is entered in the system by the treatment center or self-referred. Results: January 2017 – May 2017, 289 HCV RNA positive patients referred (31% selfreferred and 54% referred from 24 facilities in 15 states; 92% Texas); 66% patients were uninsured; Median age of patients 41 years (19-77); 58% males. 246 (85%) patients were contacted by LTCS; 173 (70%) HCV patients referred by the LTCS to a medical provider. Overall, patients were connected with an LTCS within 2 days after referral. On average, patients were contacted twice before scheduling their first appointment. 120 (49%) patients made it to their first appointment and 30 (25%) of them initiated HCV treatment; 75% completing evaluation; 9 (30%) patients finished therapy; 71% patients were seen in office vs. 14% through telemedicine vs. 15% by telephone. Conclusions: Targeting PWID is an effective way of reducing the prevalence of HCV infection and ultimately eliminating HCV in our communities. With the LTC program, there is an increase in patient compliance with linkage to care as compared to current care models.