AIMS: To examine the cost-effectiveness of hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment of people who inject drugs (PWID), combined with medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and syringe-service programs (SSP), to tackle the increasing HCV epidemic in the United States.
DESIGN: HCV transmission and disease progression models with cost-effectiveness analysis using a health-care perspective.
SETTING: Rural Perry County, KY (PC) and urban San Francisco, CA (SF), USA. Compared with PC, SF has a greater proportion of PWID with access to MAT or SSP. HCV treatment of PWID is negligible in both settings.
PARTICIPANTS: PWID data were collected between 1998 and 2015 from Social Networks Among Appalachian People, U Find Out, Urban Health Study and National HIV Behavioral Surveillance System studies.
INTERVENTIONS AND COMPARATOR: Three intervention scenarios modeled: baseline-existing SSP and MAT coverage with HCV screening and treatment with direct-acting antiviral for ex-injectors only as per standard of care; intervention 1-scale-up of SSP and MAT without changes to treatment; and intervention 2-scale-up as intervention 1 combined with HCV screening and treatment for current PWID.
MEASUREMENTS: Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) and uncertainty using cost-effectiveness acceptability curves. Benefits were measured in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs).
FINDINGS: For both settings, intervention 2 is preferred to intervention 1 and the appropriate comparator for intervention 2 is the baseline scenario. Relative to baseline, for PC intervention 2 averts 1852 more HCV infections, increases QALYS by 3095, costs $21.6 million more and has an ICER of $6975/QALY. For SF, intervention 2 averts 36 473 more HCV infections, increases QALYs by 7893, costs $872 million more and has an ICER of $11 044/QALY. The cost-effectiveness of intervention 2 was robust to several sensitivity analysis.
CONCLUSIONS: Hepatitis C screening and treatment for people who inject drugs, combined with medication-assisted treatment and syringe-service programs, is a cost-effective strategy for reducing hepatitis C burden in the United States.