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Hepatitis C in Black Individuals in the US: A Review

ARTICLE: Hepatitis C in Black Individuals in the US: A Review

AUTHORS: Oluwaseun Falade-Nwulia, Sharon M Kelly, Sasraku Amanor-Boadu, Benedicta Nneoma Nnodum, Joseph K Lim, Mark Sulkowski

JOURNAL: JAMA. 2023 Dec 12;330(22):2200-2208. doi: 10.1001/jama.2023.21981.


Importance: In the US, the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is 1.8% among people who are Black and 0.8% among people who are not Black. Mortality rates due to HCV are 5.01/100 000 among people who are Black and 2.98/100 000 among people who are White.

Observations: While people of all races and ethnicities experienced increased rates of incident HCV between 2015 and 2021, Black individuals experienced the largest percentage increase of 0.3 to 1.4/100 000 (367%) compared with 1.8 to 2.7/100 000 among American Indian/Alaska Native (50%), 0.3 to 0.9/100 000 among Hispanic (200%), and 0.9 to 1.6/100 000 among White (78%) populations. Among 47 687 persons diagnosed with HCV in 2019-2020, including 37 877 (79%) covered by Medicaid (7666 Black and 24 374 White individuals), 23.5% of Black people and 23.7% of White people with Medicaid insurance initiated HCV treatment. Strategies to increase HCV screening include electronic health record prompts for universal HCV screening, which increased screening tests from 2052/month to 4169/month in an outpatient setting. Awareness of HCV status can be increased through point-of-care testing in community-based settings, which was associated with increased likelihood of receiving HCV test results compared with referral for testing off-site (69% on-site vs 19% off-site, P < .001). Access to HCV care can be facilitated by patient navigation, in which an individual is assigned to work with a patient to help them access care and treatments; this was associated with greater likelihood of HCV care access (odds ratio, 3.7 [95% CI, 2.9-4.8]) and treatment initiation within 6 months (odds ratio, 3.2 [95% CI, 2.3-4.2]) in a public health system providing health care to individuals regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay compared with usual care. Eliminating Medicaid's HCV treatment restrictions, including removal of a requirement for advanced fibrosis or a specialist prescriber, was associated with increased treatment rates from 2.4 persons per month to 72.3 persons per month in a retrospective study of 10 336 adults with HCV with no significant difference by race (526/1388 [37.8%] for Black vs 2706/8277 [32.6%] for White patients; adjusted odds ratio, 1.02 [95% CI, 0.8-1.3]).

Conclusions and relevance: In the US, the prevalence of HCV is higher in people who are Black than in people who are not Black. Point-of-care HCV tests, patient navigation, electronic health record prompts, and unrestricted access to HCV treatment in community-based settings have potential to increase diagnosis and treatment of HCV and improve outcomes in people who are Black.

For the full article, click here.

For a link to the abstract, click here.


Kelsey Bennett

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