Sci Prog. 2022 Apr-Jun;105(2):368504221105173. doi: 10.1177/00368504221105173.
BACKGROUND: Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) regimens and telemedicine services are both options for treating hepatitis C virus (HCV) within the prison setting. We aimed to compare factors associated with HCV treatment success over the past decade in Israeli prisons, specifically the influence of DAAs and telemedicine.
METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of inmates with HCV infection in Israeli prisons from 2010 through 2020. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data were recorded, including treatment regimens and success rates.
RESULTS: A total of 273 inmates were treated; mean age 45 ± 9.36 years; 98.2% males; 63.9% with a history of drug abuse. Advanced fibrosis was documented in 42.9%. The most common genotypes were 1 (46%) followed by 3 (40.7%). Interferon-based regimens were given to 68 inmates between 2010 and 2017. DAA agents were introduced in 2016, with pan-genotype regimens being exclusively used since 2019. Telemedicine services were used in 140 patients (51.3%), starting in February 2019. The sustained viral response (SVR) rate with interferon-based therapy was 78.8% and 98.8% with DAA treatment, giving an overall SVR of 93.2%. This difference between regimens proved to be the only statistically significant predictor of treatment success. The number of prisoners being treated with DAAs increased exponentially after telemedicine was introduced. Comparable SVR rates were achieved with either in-person or telemedicine consultation.
CONCLUSION: Screening of this high-risk population and using telemedicine for treatment may be an effective strategy for the elimination of HCV from the prison population.