Emergency department (ED) hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening programs are proliferating, and it is unknown whether EDs are more effective than traditional community screening at promoting HCV follow-up care. The objective of this study was to investigate whether patients screened HCV seropositive (HCV+) in the ED are linked to care and retained in treatment more successfully than patients screened HCV+ in the community.
A retrospective cohort study was performed including patients screened HCV+ at twelve screening facilities in New Orleans, LA from March 1, 2015 to July 31, 2017. Treatment outcomes, including retention and time to follow-up care, were assessed using the HCV continuum of care model.
ED patients (n = 3008) were significantly more likely to achieve RNA confirmation (aRR = 1.91, 95% CI = 1.54-2.37), initiate HCV therapy (aRR = 2.23 [1.76-2.83]), complete HCV therapy (aRR = 1.77 [1.40-2.24]), and achieve HCV functional cure (aRR = 2.80 [1.09-7.23]) compared to community-screened patients (n = 322). ED screening was associated with decreased likelihood of fibrosis staging (aRR = 0.65 [0.51-0.82]) and no difference in linkage to specialty care (aRR = 1.03 [0.69-1.53]). In time to follow up, RNA confirmation occurred at faster rates in the ED (aHR = 2.26 [1.86-2.72]), although these patients completed fibrosis staging at slower rates (aHR = 0.49 [0.38-0.63]) than community patients.
Compared to community screening, HCV screening in the ED was associated with higher rates of disease confirmation, treatment initiation/completion, and cure. Our findings provide new evidence that EDs may be the most effective setting to screen patients for HCV to promote follow-up care.

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