Direct-acting antivirals (DAAa) cure hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in 95% of infected patients. Modeling studies predict that universal HCV treatment will lead to a decrease in the incidence of new infections but real-life data are lacking. The incidence of HCV among Dutch human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–positive men who have sex with men (MSM) has been high for >10 years. In 2015 DAAs became available to all Dutch HCV patients and resulted in a rapid treatment uptake in HIV-positive MSM. We assessed whether this uptake was followed by a decrease in the incidence of HCV infections.

Two prospective studies of treatment for acute HCV infection enrolled patients in 17 Dutch HIV centers, having 76% of the total HIV-positive MSM population in care in the Netherlands. Patients were recruited in 2014 and 2016, the years before and after unrestricted DAA availability. We compared the HCV incidence in both years.

The incidence of acute HCV infection decreased from 93 infections during 8290 person-years of follow-up (PYFU) in 2014 (11.2/1000 PYFU; 95% confidence interval [CI], 9.1–13.7) to 49 during 8961 PYFU in 2016 (5.5/1000 PYFU; 4.1–7.2). The incidence rate ratio of 2016 compared with 2014 was 0.49 (95% CI, .35–.69). Simultaneously, a significant increase in the percentage positive syphilis (+2.2%) and gonorrhea (+2.8%) tests in HIV-positive MSM was observed at sexual health clinics across the Netherlands and contradicts a decrease in risk behavior as an alternative explanation.

Unrestricted DAA availability in the Netherlands was followed by a 51% decrease in acute HCV infections among HIV-positive MSM.,
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Department of Internal Medicine

Boerekamps, A., van den Berk, G., Lauw, F., Leyten, E., van Kasteren, M., van Eeden, A., … Rijnders, B. (2017). Declining Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Incidence in Dutch Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Positive Men Who Have Sex With Men After Unrestricted Access to HCV Therapy. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 66(9), 1360–1365. doi:10.1093/cid/cix1007