Background: The true treatment rate for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in veterans is unknown.
Aim: To determine the treatment prescription rates and predictors of treatment prescription for HCV in a large national population.
Methods: The Department of Veterans Affairs National Patient Care Database (NPCD) was used to identify all HCV-infected people between the fiscal years 1999 and 2003 using the International classification of diseases, 9th revision codes. Demographic information, medical and psychiatric comorbidities, and drug and alcohol use diagnoses were retrieved. Pharmacy data were retrieved from the Department of Veterans Affairs Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM) database. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the predictors of treatment for HCV in HCV.
Results: 113 927 veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs care with a diagnosis of HCV were identified. The treatment prescription rate for HCV was 11.8%. Patients not prescribed treatment were older, more likely to be from minority races, have more alcohol and drug misuse, and have medical and psychiatric comorbid conditions. In a multivariate logistic regression model, the following factors were predictive of non-treatment for HCV: increasing age (odds ratio (OR) 0.77 for each 5-year increase in age; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.76 to 0.78); black race (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.6 to 0.68); Hispanic race (OR 0.88; 95% CI 0.8 to 0.96); alcohol abuse and dependence (OR 0.62; 95% CI 0.59 to 0.65); drug abuse and dependence (OR 0.78; 95% CI 0.74 to 0.82); anaemia (OR 0.18; 95% CI 0.16 to 0.21); hepatitis B infection (OR 0.72; 95% CI 0.62 to 0.83); coronary artery disease (OR 0.9; 95% CI 0.85 to 0.97); stroke (OR 0.75; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.85); bipolar disorder (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.58 to 0.70); major depression (OR 0.72; 95% CI 0.67 to 0.77); mild depression (OR 0.56; 95% CI 0.53 to 0.59); and schizophrenia (OR 0.71; 95% CI 0.65 to 0.77). The following factors were associated with a higher likelihood of treatment prescription for HCV: liver cirrhosis (OR 1.6; 95% CI 1.5 to 1.7); and diabetes (OR 1.07; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.12).
Conclusions: A small number of HCV-infected veterans were prescribed treatment for HCV. Non-treatment is associated with increasing age, non-white race, drug and alcohol abuse, and dependence and comorbid illnesses. Reasons for non-treatment need further study.
- HCV, hepatitis C virus
- ICD-9, International classification of diseases, 9th revision
- NPCD, National Patient Care Database
- PBM, Pharmacy Benefits Management
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Published Online First 27 September 2006
Funding: This study was funded by National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA016175-01A1, AAB).
Competing interests: None.