Modeling indicates efficient vaccine-based interventions for the elimination of hepatitis C virus among persons who inject drugs in metropolitan Chicago.


We developed a mathematical model that represents the HCV epidemic among PWID and calibrated it to empirical data from metropolitan Chicago, Illinois. Four medical interventions were considered: vaccination of HCV naive PWID, DAA treatment, DAA treatment followed by vaccination, and, a combination of vaccination and DAA treatment.

The combination of vaccination and DAAs is the lowest cost-expensive intervention for achieving the WHO target of 90% incidence reduction. The use of DAAs without a vaccine is much less cost-effective with the additional risk of reinfection after treatment. Vaccination of naïve PWID alone, even when scaled-up to all reachable PWID, cannot achieve 90% reduction of incidence in high-prevalence populations due to infections occurring before vaccination. Similarly, the lowest cost-expensive way to halve prevalence in 15 years is through the combination of vaccination and DAAs.

Persons who inject drugs (PWID) are at highest risk for acquiring and transmitting hepatitis C (HCV) infection. The recent availability of oral direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy with reported cure rates >90% can prevent HCV transmission, making HCV elimination an attainable goal among PWID. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently proposed a 90% reduction in HCV incidence as a key objective. However, given barriers to the use of DAAs in PWID, including cost, restricted access to DAAs, and risk of reinfection, combination strategies including the availability of effective vaccines are needed to eradicate HCV as a public health threat. This study aims to model the cost and efficacy of a dual modality approach using HCV vaccines combined with DAAs to reduce HCV incidence by 90% and prevalence by 50% in PWID populations.

The modeling results underscore the importance of developing an effective HCV vaccine and augmenting DAAs with vaccines in HCV intervention strategies in order to achieve efficient reductions in incidence and prevalence.

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