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      Equitable access to HCV care in HIV-HCV co-infection can be achieved despite barriers to health care provision

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          Abstract

          Language barrier, race, immigration status, mental health illness, substance abuse and socioeconomic status are often not considered when evaluating hepatitis C virus (HCV) sustained virological response (SVR) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. The influence of these factors on HCV work-up, treatment initiation and SVR were assessed in an HIV–HCV coinfected population and compared to patients with HCV mono-infection. The setting was a publicly funded, urban-based, multidisciplinary viral hepatitis clinic. A clinical database was utilized to identify HIV and HCV consults between June 2000 and June 2007. Measures of access to HCV care (ie, liver biopsy and HCV antiviral initiation) and SVR as a function of the above variables were evaluated and compared between patients with HIV–HCV and HCV. HIV–HCV co-infected (n = 106) and HCV mono-infected (n = 802) patients were evaluated. HIV–HCV patients were more often white (94% versus 84%) and male (87% versus 69%). Bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis on biopsy was more frequent in HIV–HCV (37% versus 22%; P = 0.03). HIV infection itself did not influence access to biopsy (50% versus 52%) or treatment initiation (39% versus 38%). Race, language barrier, immigration status, injection drug history and socioeconomic status did not influence access to biopsy or treatment. SVR was 54% in HCV and 30% in HIV–HCV ( P = 0.003). Genotype and HIV were the only evaluated variables to predict SVR. Within the context of a socialized, multidisciplinary clinic, HIV–HCV co-infected patients received similar access to HCV work-up and care as HCV mono-infected patients. SVR is diminished in HIV–HCV co-infection independent of language barrier, race, immigration status, or socioeconomic status.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin compared with interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin for initial treatment of chronic hepatitis C: a randomised trial.

          A sustained virological response (SVR) rate of 41% has been achieved with interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin therapy of chronic hepatitis C. In this randomised trial, peginterferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin was compared with interferon alfa-2b plus ribavirin. 1530 patients with chronic hepatitis C were assigned interferon alfa-2b (3 MU subcutaneously three times per week) plus ribavirin 1000-1200 mg/day orally, peginterferon alfa-2b 1.5 microg/kg each week plus 800 mg/day ribavirin, or peginterferon alfa-2b 1.5 microg/kg per week for 4 weeks then 0.5 microg/kg per week plus ribavirin 1000-1200 mg/day for 48 weeks. The primary endpoint was the SVR rate (undetectable hepatitis C virus [HCV] RNA in serum at 24-week follow-up). Analyses were based on patients who received at least one dose of study medication. The SVR rate was significantly higher (p=0.01 for both comparisons) in the higher-dose peginterferon group (274/511 [54%]) than in the lower-dose peginterferon (244/514 [47%]) or interferon (235/505 [47%]) groups. Among patients with HCV genotype 1 infection, the corresponding SVR rates were 42% (145/348), 34% (118/349), and 33% (114/343). The rate for patients with genotype 2 and 3 infections was about 80% for all treatment groups. Secondary analyses identified bodyweight as an important predictor of SVR, prompting comparison of the interferon regimens after adjusting ribavirin for bodyweight (mg/kg). Side-effect profiles were similar between the treatment groups. In patients with chronic hepatitis C, the most effective therapy is the combination of peginterferon alfa-2b 1.5 microg/kg per week plus ribavirin. The benefit is mostly achieved in patients with HCV genotype 1 infections.
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            Stigma in the HIV/AIDS epidemic: a review of the literature and recommendations for the way forward.

            Although stigma is considered a major barrier to effective responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, stigma reduction efforts are relegated to the bottom of AIDS programme priorities. The complexity of HIV/AIDS-related stigma is often cited as a primary reason for the limited response to this pervasive phenomenon. In this paper, we systematically review the scientific literature on HIV/AIDS-related stigma to document the current state of research, identify gaps in the available evidence and highlight promising strategies to address stigma. We focus on the following key challenges: defining, measuring and reducing HIV/AIDS-related stigma as well as assessing the impact of stigma on the effectiveness of HIV prevention and treatment programmes. Based on the literature, we conclude by offering a set of recommendations that may represent important next steps in a multifaceted response to stigma in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
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              Socio-economic status and the utilisation of physicians' services: results from the Canadian National Population Health Survey.

              This paper assesses the extent to which Canada's universal health care system has eliminated socio-economic barriers in the use of physician services by examining the role of socio-economic status in the differential use of specific, publicly-insured, primary and specialist care services. Data from the 1994 National Population Health Survey, a nationally representative survey, were analysed using multiple logistic regression. In order to control for the association between primary and specialist utilisation, a two-staged least squares method was used for models explaining specialist utilisation. Health need, as measured by perceived health status and number of health problems, was found to be consistently associated with increased physician utilisation, for both primary and specialist visits. Whereas the likelihood of an individual making at least one visit to a primary care physician was found to be independent of income, those with lower incomes were more likely to be frequent users of primary care, that is, make at least six visits to a primary care physician. Even after adjusting for the greater utilisation of primary care services by those in lower socio-economic groups, and, therefore, their higher exposure to the risk of referral, the utilisation of specialist visits was greater for those in higher socio-economic groups. Canadians lacking a regular medical doctor were less likely to receive primary and specialist care, even after adjustments for socio-economic variables such as income and education. Although financial barriers may not directly impede access to health care services in Canada, differential use of physician services with respect to socio-economic status persists. After adjusting for differences in health need, Canadians with lower incomes and fewer years of schooling visit specialists at a lower rate than those with moderate or high incomes and higher levels of education attained despite the existence of universal health care.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Ther Clin Risk Manag
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management
                Dove Medical Press
                1176-6336
                1178-203X
                2010
                2010
                26 April 2010
                : 6
                : 207-212
                Affiliations
                [1 ] The University of Ottawa Division of Infectious Diseases Viral Hepatitis Program, Ottawa, Canada
                [2 ] Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Curtis Cooper, Associate Professor of Medicine-University of Ottawa, The Ottawa Hospital, Room G12- 501 Smyth Rd, Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1H 8L6, Tel +1 613 737 8924, Fax +1 613 737 8164, Email ccooper@ 123456ottawahospital.on.ca
                Article
                tcrm-6-207
                2861442
                20463782
                © 2010 Cooper et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Original Research

                Medicine

                health care access, hcv, sustained virological response, immigrant, language, barrier, race, hiv

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