Time to complete hepatitis C cascade of care among patients identified during mass screening campaigns in rural Rwanda: a retrospective cohort study Kamali, Innocent; Shumbusho, Fabienne; Barnhart, Dale A.; Nyirahabihirwe, Françoise; Gakuru, Jean de la Paix; Dusingizimana, Wellars; Nizeyumuremyi, Esdras; Habinshuti, Placide; Walker, Stephen; Makuza, Jean Damascene; et al.
Background Since the discovery of direct-acting antivirals, treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) is increasingly accessible in low-resource settings, but quality of care in these settings is not known. We described progression through the cascade of care among individuals who screened positive for HCV antibodies during a mass screening campaign in Kirehe and Kayonza, two rural Rwandan districts, in September 2019. Methods This retrospective cohort study used routine clinical data to assess proportions of participants completing each stage of the cascade of care, including: (a) screening positive on rapid diagnostic test; (b) return of initial viral load results; (c) detectable viral load; (d) treatment assessment; (e) treatment initiation; (f) return of sustained virological response (SVR12) results; and (g) achieving SVR12. We proposed three indicators to assess timely care provision and used medians and interquartile ranges (IQR) to describe the time to complete the cascade of care. Results Overall, 666 participants screened HCV positive, among them, 452 (68.1%) were female and median age was 61 years (IQR: 47, 70). Viral load results were returned for 537 (80.6%) participants of whom 448 (83.4%) had detectable viral loads. Of these, 398 (88.8%) were assessed for treatment, 394 (99%) were initiated, but only 222 (56.3%) had results returned for SVR12. Among those with SVR12 results, 208 (93.7%) achieved SVR12. When assessing timely care provision, we found 65.9% (95% CI: 62.0, 69.7) of initial viral load results were returned ≤ 30 days of screening; 45% (95% CI: 40.1, 49.8) of people with detectable viral load completed treatment assessment ≤ 90 days of initial viral load results; and 12.5% (95% CI: 9.2, 16.3) of SVR12 results were returned ≤ 210 days of treatment initiation among those who initiated treatment. The overall median time from screening to SVR12 assessment was 437 days. Conclusion Despite high rates of SVR12 among those who completed all stages of the cascade of care, we identified gaps and delays in the treatment cascade. Improving communication between viral load testing hubs and health facilities could reduce the turn-around time for viral load testing, and actively monitor timeliness of care provision could improve quality of HCV care.
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