Hepatitis C Micro-Elimination beyond Prison Walls: Navigator-Assisted Test-and-Treat Strategy for Subjects Serving Non-Custodial Sentences

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Diagnostics (Basel). 2021 May 14;11(5):877. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics11050877.


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: The Spanish prison population includes two groups: people in prison and those who are serving non-custodial sentences. The latter has not yet been studied. This study aims to describe this population and the results of a test-and-treat strategy for hepatitis C including a holistic health assessment.

METHOD: This prospective study included all subjects serving non-custodial sentences at the Center for Social Integration. It was assisted by the medical team, a navigator, and a systematic screening of HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) performed by point-of-care tests. All cases with active infection are evaluated using telemedicine by a specialist to prescribe antiviral treatment. The navigator facilitates continuity for medical and social assistance.

RESULTS: The screening rate reached 92.8% (548/590). HCV seroprevalence and viraemia prevalence were 8% (44) and 2.9% (16), respectively. Regarding comorbidities: problems related to drug dependence were detected in 264 (48.2%), suspected serious mental disorder in 44 (8.3%), and previous stay in prison in 122 cases (22.2%). The navigator monitored 59 (15.2%) patients regarding HCV treatment or comorbidities. All patients (10/10) completing 12 weeks follow-up achieved sustained virological response.

CONCLUSIONS: The population serving non-custodial sentences is a challenging group with a high prevalence of HCV infection. Micro-elimination programs using point of care diagnostic tests, telemedicine, and a navigator are necessary in this underserved vulnerable population.

PMID:34068955 | DOI:10.3390/diagnostics11050877