UNC Site led by Andrew Moon, MD, aims to validate point-of-care hepatitis C RNA tests in nationwide effort to eradicate hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C, a bloodborne viral infection, remains a major public health problem. There are 2.5 million people in the United States chronically infected with hepatitis C who remain at risk of developing cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Direct acting antiviral therapies are well tolerated oral medications given for 8-12 weeks that have a 95% cure rate for hepatitis. However, many people remain unaware of their diagnosis and not enough people with chronic hepatitis C infection have access to this cure.
An initiative launched by the Biden administration and led by Francis Collins, MD, MPH aims to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030.
The proposed strategy includes:
- Improve testing: Point-of-care hepatitis C RNA testing to facilitate a same day test-and-treat strategy with remote follow up,
- Improve treatment access: Roll out of a “Netflix” model (i.e lump sum for unlimited medication supply) for hepatitis C medications
- Increase education, hepatitis C screening, and efforts to prevent new infections.
As part of step 1, the initiative aims to get point of care, fingerstick hepatitis C RNA tests validated by comparing them to the standard-of-care venous hepatitis C RNA testing. These tests are currently approved in Europe but require validation and FDA approval in the US. UNC will serve as one of the sites for this validation study. The study is funded by DCN diagnostics and Andrew Moon, MD, MPH, is serving as principal investigator for the site at the University of North Carolina.