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Regional and Rural-Urban Differences in the Use of Direct-acting Antiviral Agents for Hepatitis C Virus: The Veteran Birth Cohort.
Njei B, Esserman D, Krishnan S, Ohl M, Tate JP, Hauser RG, Taddei T, Lim J, Justice AC. Regional and Rural-Urban Differences in the Use of Direct-acting Antiviral Agents for Hepatitis C Virus: The Veteran Birth Cohort. Medical care. 2019 Apr 1; 57(4):279-285.
Veterans with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection may face geographic obstacles to obtaining treatment.
We studied the influence of region and rural versus urban residence on receipt of direct-acting antiretroviral (DAA) medications for HCV.
Veterans receiving care within Veterans Affairs Healthcare System born between 1945 and 1965.
This is a observational study using national electronic health record data.
Receipt of DAAs was defined as = 1 filled prescription from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016. Region (South, Northeast, Midwest, and West) and residence (urban, rural-micropolitan, small rural towns, and isolated rural towns) variables were created using residential zone improvement plan codes and rural-urban commuting area (RUCA) codes. Multivariable models were adjusted for age, race, sex, severity of liver disease, comorbidities, and prior treatment experience.
Among 166,353 eligible patients 64,854 received, DAAs. Variation by rural-urban residence depended on region. In unadjusted analyses, receipt varied by rural-urban designations within Midwest, and West regions (P < 0.05) but did not vary within the South (P = 0.12). Southern rural small town had the lowest incidence of DAA receipt (40.1%), whereas the incidence was 52.9% in Midwestern isolated rural towns. In adjusted logistic analyses, compared with southern urban residents (the largest single group), southern rural small town residents had the lowest odds ratio, 0.85 (95% confidence interval, 0.75-0.93), and Midwestern residents from isolated and small rural towns had the highest odds (odds ratio, both 1.27) to receive treatment.
Substantial geographic variation exists in receipt of curative HCV treatment. Efforts are needed to provide more equitable access to DAAs.