Barriers to hepatitis C virus treatment in Guangdong Province

Xiaohua Yang, Zhen Xu, Yongyu Mei, Guoli Lin, Jinyuan Wei, Xiaoqiong Shao, Qiumin Luo, Zhixin Zhao, Chaoshuang Lin, Xiaohong Zhang


Background: The objective of this study is to analyze the causes of nontreatment among patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and increase the cure rate of chronic hepatitis C in Guangdong Province.
Methods: We performed both retrospective survey and prospective study in a cohort of 435 outpatients in our center to analyze the subjective and objective causes of HCV non-treatment.
Results: Among 1,931 patients, 435 did not receive anti-viral therapy (AVT), and, in 37 of these patients, the virus load was persistently negative. In the remaining 398 patients, HCV RNA repeatedly tested positive. The causes of nontreatment in these patients included economic constraints (n=77, 17.7%); old age, fear of treatment-related side effects, uncertainty (n=46, 10.6%); fear of potential adverse effects on fertility (n=37, 8.5%); fear of interferon side-effects (n=21, 4.8%); and dosing inconvenience during study or work (n=9, 2.1%). In addition, 137 patients (31.5%) had medical contraindications including decompensated hepatic cirrhosis (n=55, 12.6%), uncontrolled autoimmune diseases (e.g., autoimmune hepatitis and systemic lupus erythematosus) (n=19, 4.4%), renal dysfunction (n=21, 4.8%), thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism) (n=16, 3.7%), depression (n=14, 3.2%), uncontrolled diabetes (n=5, 1.1%), severe lung disease (e.g., active tuberculosis) (n=4, 0.9%), symptomatic heart disease (n=3, 0.7%), alcoholism (n=15, 3.4%), drug addiction (n=31, 7.1%), lack of physician recommendation (n=2, 0.5%), and unknown reasons (n=23, 5.3%).
Conclusions: The low rate of AVT in HCV-infected patients is related to many factors. In Guangdong province, HCV patients do not receive AVT mainly due to economic constraints, patients’ fear of side effects, and the presence of contraindications.