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"This cross-sectional study was performed to investigate the change in the actual HCV RNA positivity rate in source patients before and after the interferon (IFN)-free DAA era" Okushin et al (2021).
Needlestick hepatitis C infection rates

Abstract:

Background: As a blood-borne pathogen, hepatitis C virus (HCV) has long been a major threat associated with needle-stick injuries (NSIs) mainly because no vaccine is available for HCV. Following an NSI, we usually test the source patient for HCV antibody (HCV-Ab). Since HCV-Ab positivity does not necessarily indicate current infection, HCV RNA is further examined in patients positive for HCV-Ab. Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) have enabled us to treat most HCV-infected patients; therefore, we speculate that the rate of HCV RNA positivity among HCV-Ab-positive patients decreased after the emergence of DAAs. This cross-sectional study was performed to investigate the change in the actual HCV RNA positivity rate in source patients before and after the interferon (IFN)-free DAA era.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of NSI source patients at a tertiary academic hospital in Japan from 2009 to 2019. IFN-free DAA regimens were first introduced in Japan in 2014. Accordingly, we compared HCV status of NSI source patients that occurred between 2009 and 2014 (the era before IFN-free DAAs) with those that occurred between 2015 and 2019 (the era of IFN-free DAAs) in a tertiary care hospital in Japan.

Results: In total, 1435 NSIs occurred, and 150 HCV-Ab-positive patients were analyzed. The proportion of HCV RNA-positive patients significantly changed from 2009 through 2019 (p = 0.005, Cochran-Armitage test). Between 2009 and 2014, 102 source patients were HCV-Ab-positive, 78 of whom were also positive for HCV RNA (76.5%; 95%CI, 67.4-83.6%). Between 2015 and 2019, 48 patients were HCV-Ab-positive, 23 of whom were also positive for HCV RNA (47.9%; 95%CI, 34.5-61.7%; p = 0.0007 compared with 2009-2014). In the era of IFN-free DAAs, 9 of 23 HCV RNA-negative patients (39.1%) and 2 of 22 HCV RNA-positive patients (9.1%) were treated with an IFN-free combination of DAAs (p = 0.0351). Regarding the departments where NSIs occurred, HCV RNA-negative patients were predominant in departments not related to liver diseases in the era of IFN-free DAAs (p = 0.0078, compared with 2009-2014).

Conclusions: Actual HCV RNA positivity in source patients of NSIs decreased after the emergence of IFN-free DAAs. IFN-free DAAs might have contributed to this reduction, and HCV RNA-negative patients were predominant in departments not related to liver diseases in the era of IFN-free DAAs.

Reference:

Okushin K, Suzuki R, Tsutsumi T, Okamoto K, Ikeuchi K, Kado A, Minatsuki C, Minami-Kobayashi Y, Satoh N, Ikeda M, Harada S, Enooku K, Fujinaga H, Yotsuyanagi H, Koike K, Moriya K. Change in hepatitis C virus positivity among needle-stick injury source patients: a 10-year experience in a Japanese tertiary hospital. BMC Infect Dis. 2021 Apr 30;21(1):399. doi: 10.1186/s12879-021-06117-4. PMID: 33931015; PMCID: PMC8086119.