Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are becoming accessible in sub-Saharan Africa. This study examined the effectiveness of DAAs in patients treated through the Rwandan national health system and identified factors associated with treatment outcomes.
This retrospective study utilized data from the national HCV program for patients who initiated DAAs between November 2015 and March 2017. Sustained virological response at 12 weeks post-treatment (SVR12) was the primary outcome. Logistic regression models were fit to estimate the relationship between patients’ clinical and demographic characteristics and treatment outcome.
894 patients initiated treatment during the study period; 590 completed treatment and had SVR12 results. Among the 304 patients without SVR12 results, 48 were lost to follow-up and 256 had no SVR12 results but clinical data indicated they likely completed treatment – these patients were classified as non-virological failure since viral clearance could not be determined. In a per-protocol analysis for 590 patients with SVR12 results, 540 (92%) achieved SVR12 and 50 (8%) experienced virological failure. Pre-treatment HCV RNA above the median split was associated with virological failure. Intention-to-treat analyses including all patients indicated 540 (60%) achieved SVR12, 304 (34%) experienced non-virological failure, and 50 (6%) experienced virological failure. Patients in Western Province were more likely to experience non-virological failure than patients in Kigali, likely due to the five- to seven-hour travel required to access testing and treatment.
DAAs were effective when implemented through the Rwandan national health system. Decentralization and enhanced financing are underway in Rwanda, which could improve access to treatment and follow-up as the country prepares for HCV elimination.

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