Publications & Reports

Care Navigation Increases Initiation of Hepatitis C Treatment After Release From Prison in a Prospective Randomized Controlled Trial: The C-LINK Study.

Papaluca T, Craigie A, McDonald L, Edwards A, Winter R, Hoang A, Pappas A, Waldron A, McCoy K, Stoové M, Doyle J, Hellard M, Holmes J, MacIsaac M, Desmond P, Iser D, Thompson AJ
Department of Gastroenterology, St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Background: Prison-based hepatitis C treatment is safe and effective; however, many individuals are released untreated due to time or resource constraints. On community re-entry, individuals face a number of immediate competing priorities, and in this context, linkage to hepatitis C care is low. Interventions targeted at improving healthcare continuity after prison release have yielded positive outcomes for other health diagnoses; however, data regarding hepatitis C transitional care are limited. Methods: We conducted a prospective randomized controlled trial comparing a hepatitis C care navigator intervention with standard of care for individuals released from prison with untreated hepatitis C infection. The primary outcome was prescription of hepatitis C direct-acting antivirals (DAA) within 6 months of release. Results: Forty-six participants were randomized. The median age was 36 years and 59% were male. Ninety percent (n = 36 of 40) had injected drugs within 6 months before incarceration. Twenty-two were randomized to care navigation and 24 were randomized to standard of care. Individuals randomized to the intervention were more likely to commence hepatitis C DAAs within 6 months of release (73%, n = 16 of 22 vs 33% n = 8 of 24, P < .01), and the median time between re-entry and DAA prescription was significantly shorter (21 days [interquartile range {IQR}, 11-42] vs 82 days [IQR, 44-99], P = .049). Conclusions: Care navigation increased hepatitis C treatment uptake among untreated individuals released from prison. Public policy should support similar models of care to promote treatment in this high-risk population. Such an approach will help achieve hepatitis C elimination as a public health threat.

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