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Am J Prev Med ; 61(3): 369-376, 2021 09.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1258300


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted healthcare services, reducing opportunities to conduct routine hepatitis C virus antibody screening, clinical care, and treatment. Therefore, people living with undiagnosed hepatitis C virus during the pandemic may later become identified at more advanced stages of the disease, leading to higher morbidity and mortality rates. Further, unidentified hepatitis C virus-infected individuals may continue to unknowingly transmit the virus to others. METHODS: To assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, data were evaluated from a large national reference clinical laboratory and from national estimates of dispensed prescriptions for hepatitis C virus treatment. Investigators estimated the average number of hepatitis C virus antibody tests, hepatitis C virus antibody-positive test results, and hepatitis C virus RNA-positive test results by month in January-July for 2018 and 2019, compared with the same months in 2020. To assess the impact of hepatitis C virus treatment, dispensed hepatitis C virus direct-acting antiretroviral medications were examined for the same time periods. Statistical analyses of trends were performed using negative binomial models. RESULTS: Compared with the 2018 and 2019 months, hepatitis C virus antibody testing volume decreased 59% during April 2020 and rebounded to a 6% reduction in July 2020. The number of hepatitis C virus RNA-positive results fell by 62% in March 2020 and remained 39% below the baseline by July 2020. For hepatitis C virus treatment, prescriptions decreased 43% in May, 37% in June, and 38% in July relative to the corresponding months in 2018 and 2019. CONCLUSIONS: During the COVID-19 pandemic, continued public health messaging, interventions and outreach programs to restore hepatitis C virus testing and treatment to prepandemic levels, and maintenance of public health efforts to eliminate hepatitis C infections remain important.

COVID-19 , Hepatitis C , Hepacivirus , Hepatitis C/diagnosis , Hepatitis C/drug therapy , Hepatitis C/epidemiology , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2