Model-based cost-effectiveness estimates of testing strategies for diagnosing hepatitis C virus infection in Central and Western Africa
Whereas 72% of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected people worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), only 6% of them have been diagnosed. Innovative technologies for HCV diagnosis provide opportunities for developing testing strategies more adapted to resource-constrained settings. However, studies about their economic feasibility in LMICs are lacking. Adopting a health sector perspective in Cameroon, Cote-d'Ivoire, and Senegal, a decision tree model was developed to compare 12
... ting strategies with the following characteristics: a one-step or two-step testing sequence, HCV-RNA or HCV core antigen as confirmative biomarker, laboratory or point-of-care (POC) tests, and venous blood samples or dried blood spots (DBS). Outcomes measures were the number of true positives (TPs), cost per screened individual, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios, and nationwide budget. Corresponding time horizon was immediate, and outcomes were accordingly not discounted. Detailed sensitivity analyses were conducted. In the base-case, a two-step POC-based strategy including anti-HCV antibody (HCV-Ab) and HCV-RNA testing had the lowest cost, €8.18 per screened individual. Assuming a lost-to-follow-up rate after screening > 1.9%, a DBS-based laboratory HCV-RNA after HCV-Ab POC testing was the single un-dominated strategy, requiring an additional cost of €3653.56 per additional TP detected. Both strategies would require 8-25% of the annual public health expenditure of the study countries for diagnosing 30% of HCV-infected individuals. Assuming a seroprevalence > 46.9% or a cost of POC HCV-RNA < €7.32, a one-step strategy based on POC HCV-RNA dominated the two-step POC-based strategy but resulted in many more false-positive cases. POC HCV-Ab followed by either POC- or DBS-based HCV-RNA testing would be the most cost-effective strategies in the study countries. Without a substantial increase in funding for health or a dramatic decrease in assay prices, HCV testing would constitute an economic barrier to the implementation of HCV elimination programs in LMICs.