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Association Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Receipt of Direct-Acting Antiviral Hepatitis C Virus Treatment
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December 14, 2022
Question What is the association of alcohol use with receipt of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection?
Findings In this cohort study of 133 753 adults with HCV infection, those with alcohol use disorder, even if abstinent, were statistically significantly less likely to receive DAA treatment within 1 and 3 years after eligibility compared with those with lower-risk drinking after adjusting for demographic characteristics and comorbidities. Meaning This study suggests that, although guidelines recommend DAA treatment for patients with HCV regardless of alcohol use, patients with alcohol use disorder encounter barriers to HCV treatment.
Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is associated with lower mortality and is effective in individuals with alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, despite recommendations, patients with AUD may be less likely to receive DAAs.
Objective To assess the association between alcohol use and receipt of DAA treatment among patients with HCV within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).
Design, Setting, and Participants This cohort study included 133 753 patients with HCV born from 1945 to 1965 who had completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test–Consumption (AUDIT-C) questionnaire and had at least 1 outpatient visit in the VHA from January 1, 2014, through May 31, 2017, with maximal follow-up of 3 years until May 31, 2020; DAA receipt; or death, whichever occurred first.
Exposures Alcohol use categories generated using responses to the AUDIT-C questionnaire and International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision and International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision diagnoses: current AUD, abstinent with AUD history, at-risk drinking, lower-risk drinking, and abstinent without AUD history. Demographic, other clinical, and pharmacy data were also collected.
Main Outcomes and Measures Associations between alcohol use categories and DAA receipt within 1 and 3 years estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression stratified by calendar year.
Results Of 133 753 patients (130 103 men [97%]; mean [SD] age, 60.6 [4.5] years; and 73 493 White patients [55%]), 38% had current AUD, 12% were abstinent with a history of AUD, 6% reported at-risk drinking, 14% reported lower-risk drinking, and 30% were abstinent without a history of AUD. Receipt of DAA treatment within 1 year was 7%, 33%, 53%, and 56% for patients entering the cohort in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively. For patients entering in 2014, those with current AUD (hazard ratio [HR], 0.72 [95%, CI, 0.66-0.77]) or who were abstinent with an AUD history (HR, 0.91 [95% CI, 0.84-1.00]) were less likely to receive DAA treatment within 1 year compared with patients with lower-risk drinking. For those entering in 2015-2017, patients with current AUD (HR, 0.75 [95% CI, 0.70-0.81]) and those who were abstinent with an AUD history (HR, 0.76 [95% CI, 0.68-0.86]) were less likely to receive DAA treatment within 1 year compared with patients with lower-risk drinking.
Conclusions and Relevance This cohort study suggests that individuals with AUD, regardless of abstinence, were less likely to receive DAA treatment. Improved access to DAA treatment for persons with AUD is needed.

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