Interventions to increase testing, linkage to care and treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among people in prisons: A systematic review
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BACKGROUND: While the burden of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is significantly higher among people in prisons compared to the general population, testing and treatment uptake remain suboptimal. The aim of this systematic review was to synthesize evidence on the effectiveness of interventions to increase HCV testing, linkage to care and treatment uptake among people in prisons. METHODS: We searched Medline (Ovid 1996-present), Embase (Ovid 1996-present), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for English language articles published between January 2007 and November 2017. Studies evaluating interventions to enhance HCV testing, linkage to care and treatment uptake for people in prison were included. Two independent reviewers evaluated articles selected for full-text review. Disagreements were resolved by consensus. RESULTS: A total of 475 unique articles were identified, 29 were eligible for full text review, and six studies were included. All but one study was conducted in the pre-direct-acting antiviral (DAA) era; no studies were conducted in low- or middle-income countries. Of the six studies, all but one focused on testing. Only two were randomised controlled trials; the remaining were single arm studies. Interventions to enhance HCV testing in prison settings included combination risk-based and birth-cohort screening strategies, on-site nurse-led opt-in screening clinics with pre-test counselling and education, and systematic dried blood spot testing. All interventions increased HCV testing, but risk of study bias was high in all studies. Interventions to enhance linkage to care included facilitated referral for HCV assessment and scheduling of specialist appointments; however, risk of study bias was critical. CONCLUSIONS: There is a lack of recent data on interventions to improve the HCV care cascade in people in prisons. With the introduction of short-course, well-tolerated DAAs, rigorous controlled studies evaluating interventions to improve testing, linkage and treatment uptake for people in prison are necessary.
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