An experience using historical hepatitis C data to Re-Engage: Possibilities and pitfalls during the COVID-19 pandemic

William Osborne, Noorann Sheikh, Gemma Botterill, Sally Bufton, David Mutimer, Mamoona Tahir, Sowsan F. Atabani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Public Health England (PHE) aims meet the WHO target to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health concern by 2030. One aspect of this strategy is to use historical surveillance data of anti-HCV positive patients identified by PHE to re-engage with offers of PCR testing and treatment if RNA-positive. Operational Delivery Networks (ODN), who deliver Hepatitis C treatment across 22 regions in England, are responsible for enacting this initiative. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of using this data with regional PCR results to re-engage HCV-infected persons in the West Midlands region of England. Study design: A longitudinal prospective study using historical surveillance data. Methods: A dataset of historical anti-HCV positive antibody patients provided to the ODN by PHE was cross-referenced with HCV RNA data from 01/01/1996 to 01/01/2019 from five laboratories across the West Midlands. Letters were sent to the general practitioner and to the patients who were HCV RNA positive to invite them for repeat testing and treatment to achieve cure. Results: From a dataset of 4540 anti-HCV antibody results, 31.7% (n=1440) had a PCR result: 48.1% (n=693) were PCR positive for HCV RNA. 693 letters were sent to GPs with responses from 14.2% (n=99). By May 2021, only 212 patient letters were sent (due to significant interruption by the COVID-19 pandemic) and 11.3% (n=24) replied, 17 presented for PCR testing and 4 were found to be viraemic. To date, one patient has achieved cure and three have completed treatment awaiting confirmation of cure. Conclusion: The use of historical anti-HCV antibody results can be used to successfully re-engage people into testing and treatment for hepatitis C, albeit with modest gains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100207
JournalPublic Health in Practice
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Janet Mowbray, Carly Skellern and Dean Ironmonger for data retrieval.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Active hepatitis C infection
  • COVID-19
  • Re-engagement
  • Surveillance data
  • Sustained virological response (SVR)


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