The incidence of acute HCV (AHCV) among Dutch HIV+MSM has been high for >10yrs. Recent modeling studies predict that prompt treatment with direct acting antivirals (DAA) may decrease this incidence substantially (CROI2016 A536) but confirmation from real-life data is awaited. In 11/2014 all oral DAA therapy became available for F3-4 fibrosis and from 09/2015 for F0-2 as well, resulting in rapid DAA uptake in Dutch HIV+MSM with chronic HCV with already 65% cured or on DAA therapy 6 months after unrestricted DAA availability (CROI 2017 Boerekamps et al). Also, in 2014 (in DAHHS1 study NCT01912495) as well as in 2016 (in ongoing DAHHS2 study NCT02600325) patients with AHCV were offered immediate therapy in DAHHS centers across the Netherlands. We hypothesized that this rapid treatment uptake will result in a lower incidence of AHCV among HIV+MSM.
AHCV was defined as HCV-RNA positivity, preceded by a negative HCV-RNA or HCV-IgG within 12 months. When stored plasma could not be retested, a normal ALT preceding the first positive HCV-RNA test together with a negative IgG any time in the past or a positive HCV-RNA and a simultaneous negative IgG was also considered diagnostic for AHCV. The incidence of AHCV was calculated by dividing the cases by the patient years of follow-up (PYFU). Data were available from 18 HIV treatment centers, geographically spread across the Netherlands having +/-80% of Dutch HIV+MSM in care. We compared the incidence in 2014 (year preceding DAA availability) to 2016 incidence (first year after DAA availability).
In 2014, 93 AHCV infections occurred in 8290 PYFU (=11.2/1000 PYFU, 95% CI 9.1-13.7). In 2016, 49 AHCV were diagnosed in 8961 PYFU (=5.5/1000 PYFU, 95% CI 4.1–7.2, p<0.001). The incidence in 2014 of 11.2/1000 showed a continuous decline to 6.9/1000 and 4.0/1000 within the first and second half of 2016. A relative increase in genotype 4 infections was observed from 19% (n=18) to 31% (n=15) (p=0.02). The absolute number of AHCV infections decreased both in patients with a first AHCV infection as well as in patients that had an AHCV reinfection (=patients previously cured of an AHCV infection), while the proportion of reinfections remained constant: 21/93 in 2014 and 12/49 in 2016 (p=0.8).
1 year after unrestricted DAA availability in the Netherlands, the incidence of acute HCV in HIV+MSM decreased by 52%. For the first time, real-life data show that ‘HCV treatment as prevention’ averts new HCV infections in HIV+MSM.