BACKGROUND: The advent of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) and point-of-care (POC) testing platforms for hepatitis C allow for the decentralization of care to primary care settings. In many countries, access to DAAs is generally limited to tertiary hospitals, with limited published research documenting decentralized models of care in low-and middle-income settings. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the feasibility, acceptability, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of decentralized community-based POC testing and DAA therapy for hepatitis C among people who inject drugs and the general population in Yangon, Myanmar. METHODS: Rapid diagnostic tests for anti-hepatitis C antibodies were carried out on-site and, if reactive, were followed by POC GeneXpert hepatitis C RNA polymerase chain reaction tests. External laboratory blood tests to exclude other major health issues were undertaken. Results were given to participants at their next appointment, with the participants commencing DAA therapy that day if a specialist review was not required. Standard clinical data were collected, and the participants completed behavioral questionnaires. The primary outcome measures are the proportion of participants receiving GeneXpert hepatitis C RNA test, the proportion of participants commencing DAA therapy, the proportion of participants completing DAA therapy, and the proportion of participants achieving sustained virological response 12 weeks after completing DAA therapy. RESULTS: Recruitment was completed on September 30, 2019. Monitoring visits and treatment outcome visits are scheduled to continue until June 2020. CONCLUSIONS: This feasibility study in Myanmar contributes to the evidence gap for community-based hepatitis C care in low- and middle-income settings. Evidence from this study will inform the scale-up of hepatitis C treatment programs in Myanmar and globally.
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This study was funded as part of the Unitaid HEAD-Start Project through FIND. The investigators are responsible for the study
design, data collection and analysis, interpretation of data, and preparation of manuscripts. The authors gratefully acknowledge
the contribution to this work of the Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program received by the Burnet Institute.