From risk to care: the hepatitis C screening and diagnostic cascade in a primary health care clinic in Karachi, Pakistan - a cohort study
Gul Ghuttai Khalid, Khine Wut Yee Kyaw, Christine Bousquet, Rosa Auat, Dmytro Donchuk, Adam Trickey, Saeed Hamid, Huma Qureshi, Valentina Mazzeo, Khawar Aslam, Salima Khowaja and Rafael Van den Bergh
In the high-prevalence setting of Pakistan, screening, diagnosis and treatment services for chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients are commonly offered in specialized facilities. We aimed to describe the cascade of care in a Médecins Sans Frontières primary health care clinic offering CHC care in an informal settlement in Karachi, Pakistan.
This was a retrospective cohort analysis using routinely collected data. Three different screening algorithms were assessed among patients with one or more CHC risk factors.
Among the 87 348 patients attending the outpatient clinic, 5003 (6%) presented with one or more risk factors. Rapid diagnostic test (RDT) positivity was 38% overall. Approximately 60% of the CHC patients across all risk categories were in the early stage of the disease, with an aspartate aminotransferase:platelet ratio index score <1. The sequential delays in the cascade differed between the three groups, with the interval between screening and treatment initiation being the shortest in the cohort tested with GeneXpert onsite.
Delays between screening and treatment can be reduced by putting in place more patient-centric testing algorithms. New strategies, to better identify and treat the hidden at-risk populations, should be developed and implemented.