Hepatitis C virus notification rates in Australia are highest in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas

Samuel W. Hainsworth, Paul M. Dietze, David P. Wilson, Brett Sutton, Margaret E. Hellard, Nick Scott

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Background Poor access to health services is a significant barrier to achieving the World Health Organization’s hepatitis C virus (HCV) elimination targets. We demonstrate how geospatial analysis can be performed with commonly available data to identify areas with the greatest unmet demand for HCV services. Methods We performed an Australia-wide cross-sectional analysis of 2015 HCV notification rates using local government areas (LGAs) as our unit of analysis. A zero-inflated negative binomial regression was used to determine associations between notification rates and socioeconomic/demographic factors, health service and geographic remoteness area (RA) classification variables. Additionally, component scores were extracted from a principal component analysis (PCA) of the healthcare service variables to provide rankings of relative service coverage and unmet demand across Australia. Results Among LGAs with non-zero notifications, higher rates were associated with areas that had increased socioeconomic disadvantage, more needle and syringe services (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 1.022; 95%CI 1.001, 1.044) and more alcohol and other drug services (IRR 1.019; 1.005, 1.034). The distribution of PCA component scores indicated that per-capita healthcare service coverage was lower in areas outside of major Australian cities. Areas outside of major cities also contained 94% of LGAs in the lowest two socioeconomic quintiles, as well as 35% of HCV notifications despite only representing 29% of the population. Conclusions As countries aim for HCV elimination, routinely collected data can be used to identify geographical areas for priority service delivery. In Australia, the unmet demand for HCV treatment services is greatest in socioeconomically disadvantaged and non-metropolitan areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0198336
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2018

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