1 Departments of Surgery, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
2 Departments of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
3 Departments of Medicine Statistics Core, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Background and Aims: Hepatitis C (HCV) is a medical and public health concern. Once infected individuals are identified, management includes not only education but also the use of antiviral therapy. Although screening for HCV is readily available, barriers exist which prevent assessment and treatment in individuals potentially infected with HCV. Methods: This is a retrospective study of patients screened for HCV within the University of California, Los Angeles Health Care System between February 22 and July 9, 2018. We defined linkage to care as: 1) confirmatory HCV RNA test after screening HCV antibody test found a positive result; and 2) follow-up appointment for treatment was established with a specialist. Demographic and baseline laboratory values were collected. Factors potentially associated with prohibiting linkage of care were evaluated. Results: During the study period, 17,512 individuals were screened for HCV. A total of 238 (1.35%) were found to have detectable HCV antibodies. Of the individuals with detectable HCV antibodies, 48 (20%) did not undergo confirmatory testing with viral levels. Of the 190 individuals who underwent further testing, 70 patients were noted to be viremic. Among them, 17 of the 70 (24%) were not linked to a specialist for further care. Younger patients (p = 0.02) and people who inject drugs (p = 0.02) were less likely to be referred for specialty care. Conclusions:The results of our study highlight that younger patients and people who inject drugs are less likely to be referred to specialty care for HCV treatment. Efforts are needed to engage these populations.