Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, United States of America.
No consensus exists on screening to detect the estimated 2 million Americans unaware of their chronic hepatitis C infections. Advisory groups differ, recommending birth-cohort screening for baby boomers, screening only high-risk individuals, or no screening. We assessed one-time risk assessment and screening to identify previously undiagnosed 40-74 year-olds given newly available hepatitis C treatments.
METHODS AND FINDINGS:
A Markov model evaluated alternative risk-factor guided and birth-cohort screening and treatment strategies. Risk factors included drug use history, blood transfusion before 1992, and multiple sexual partners. Analyses of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey provided sex-, race-, age-, and risk-factor-specific hepatitis C prevalence and mortality rates. Nine strategies combined screening (no screening, risk-factor guided screening, or birth-cohort screening) and treatment (standard therapy-peginterferon alfa and ribavirin, Interleukin-28B-guided (IL28B) triple-therapy-standard therapy plus a protease inhibitor, or universal triple therapy). Response-guided treatment depended on HCV genotype. Outcomes include discounted lifetime costs (2010 dollars) and quality adjusted life-years (QALYs). Compared to no screening, risk-factor guided and birth-cohort screening for 50 year-olds gained 0.7 to 3.5 quality adjusted life-days and cost $168 to $568 per person. Birth-cohort screening provided more benefit per dollar than risk-factor guided screening and cost $65,749 per QALY if followed by universal triple therapy compared to screening followed by IL28B-guided triple therapy. If only 10% of screen-detected, eligible patients initiate treatment at each opportunity, birth-cohort screening with universal triple therapy costs $241,100 per QALY. Assuming treatment with triple therapy, screening all individuals aged 40-64 years costs less than $100,000 per QALY.
The cost-effectiveness of one-time birth-cohort hepatitis C screening for 40-64 year olds is comparable to other screening programs, provided that the healthcare system has sufficient capacity to deliver prompt treatment and appropriate follow-on care to many newly screen-detected individuals.