• Exploring and understanding HCV patient journeys- HEPCARE Europe project.

      Glaspy, Shannon; Avramovic, Gordana; McHugh, Tina; Oprea, Cristiana; Surey, Julian; Ianache, Irina; Macías, Juan; Story, Alistair; Cullen, Walter; Lambert, John S (2021-03-05)
      Background: Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a leading cause for chronic liver diseases worldwide. The European Union and World Health Organization aspire to eliminate HCV by 2030. However, among at-risk populations, including, homeless people, prisoners and People Who Inject Drugs, access to diagnosis and treatment is challenging. Hepcare Europe is an integrated model of care developed to address this by assessing potential reasons for these restrictions and determining measures needed to improve HCV diagnosis, treatment and access to care within different communities. Objectives: HepCare Europe is an EU-supported project involving collaboration between five institutions in: Ireland, United Kingdom, Spain and Romania. We aim to explore the journey of care experienced by those living with HCV with a focus on previous care disruptions (loss to follow up) and the new HepCare Europe Programme. Methods: Research teams conducted semi-structured interviews with patients who accessed services through HepCare Europe thus, patients were recruited by purposeful sampling. Patients interviewed had received, or were in the final weeks of receiving, treatment. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and translated into English, and sent to the Dublin team for inductive thematic analysis. Researchers from the HepCare Europe research team coded the data separately, then together. Results: Common themes are introduced to present similarities, following individual site themes to highlight the importance of tailored interventions for each country. Key themes are: 1) Hepatitis C patients lost to follow up 2) HepCare improved access to treatment and 3) the need for improved HCV education. Individual themes also emerged for each site. These are: Ireland: New opportunities associated with achieving Sustained Virologic Responses (SVR). Romania: HCV is comparatively less crucial in light of Human Immunodeficiency Viruses (HIV) coinfections. UK: Patients desire support to overcome social barriers and Spain: Improved awareness of HCV, treatment and alcohol use. Conclusion: This study identified how the tailored HepCare interventions enabled improved HCV testing and linkage to care outcomes for these patients. Tailored interventions that targeted the needs of patients, increased the acceptability and success of treatment by patients. HepCare demonstrated the need for flexibility in treatment delivery, and provided additional supports to keep patients engaged and educated on new treatment therapies.
    • HepCare Europe-A service innovation project. HepCheck: Characteristics of the patient population with active infection as defined by HCV RNA.

      Avramovic, Gordana; Oprea, Cristiana; Surey, Julian; Story, Alistair; Macías, Juan; Cullen, Walter; Iglesias, Maria; Mc Hugh, Tina; Crowley, Des; Naughton, Anna Marie; et al. (2019-11-27)
      BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a main cause of chronic liver disease worldwide and is consistently under-diagnosed. Community-based screening initiatives, such as HepCheck, have been identified as important components of HCV care. HepCheck focuses on screening and identifying HCV RNA-positive cases in high-risk populations and linking them to care as part of a larger European project to improve HCV care (HepCare). METHODS: HCV testing with a self-administered questionnaire was offered to 2822 individuals. RESULTS: There were 2079 patients screened. Overall, 397 (19%) of the total screened cohort were identified as having active HCV infections as measured by HCV RNA PCR. The patients were mostly male (84%), white (88%), and had a history of injecting drug use (IDU) (86%), homelessness (58%), and tattooing (42%). There were 136 new cases (7% of the total sample and 34% of identified active infections). Romania had the highest proportion of newly identified cases with 87%, then Ireland with 60%, and Spain with 43%; the UK had the lowest proportion of new cases at 10%. CONCLUSIONS: For those lost to follow-up, a major strategy is re-engagement. For those newly diagnosed, the 'seek and treat' approach is a key strategy. Thus, different priorities are defined for different countries.