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Study Models Cost-Effectiveness of Hepatitis C Virus Diagnosis, Treatment in Australia

Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reporting in Lancet Regional Health consider the cost-effectiveness of hepatitis C virus (HCV) point-of-care HCV RNA testing or HCV antibody plus reflex RNA testing in high-risk Australian populations, setting the point-of-care testing and treatment approach against standard lab-based HCV RNA or antibody testing on samples collected at an earlier time. Based on data from Australian needle and syringe exchange programs, prison sites, and drug treatment clinics, the team saw significantly lower average costs for HCV treatment initiation in the point-of-care testing situations, though the exact savings varied with the setting considered. "Point-of-care HCV testing enables diagnosis and treatment in a single-visit, increases testing acceptability, and reduces loss to following up, addressing the drop-off in the HCV care cascade," the authors write. "Combining point-of-care HCV antibody and RNA testing could optimize testing outcomes, enhancing cost-effectiveness and patient acceptability."