To analyze the hepatitis C virus (HCV) burden in Lebanon and the value of comprehensive screening and treatment for different age groups and fibrosis stages.
We used a multicohort, health-state-transition model to project the number of HCV genotype 1 and 4 patients achieving a sustained virologic response 12 weeks after treatment or progressing to compensated cirrhosis (CC), decompensated cirrhosis (DCC), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or liver-related death (LrD) from 2016 to 2036. In the low/medium/high screening scenarios, the proportion of patients screened for HCV was projected to increase to 60%/85%/99%, respectively, by 2036. We analyzed four treatment strategies: 1) no treatment, 2) all-oral direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) given to F3-F4 (CC) patients only, 3) all-oral DAAs to F2-F3-F4 (CC) patients, and 4) all-oral DAAs to all fibrosis patients.
Low, medium, and high HCV screening scenarios projected that 3,838, 5,665, and 7,669 individuals will be diagnosed with HCV infection, respectively, from 2016 to 2036, or 40% of those aged 18-39 years, and 60% of those aged 40-80 years. With no treatment, the projected number of patients reaching CC, DCC, HCC, or LrD in 2036 was 899, 147, 131, and 147, respectively, for the 18-39 years age group. For the 40-80 years age group, these projections were substantially greater: 2,828 CC, 736 DCC, 668 HCC, and 958 LrD. The overall economic burden without treatment reached 150 million EUR. However, introducing DAAs for F0-F4 patients was projected to increase the proportion of remaining life-years spent in sustained virologic response 12 weeks after treatment by 43% and 62% compared to DAAs given at F2-F4 or F3-F4 only, respectively.
An enhanced screening policy combined with broader access to DAAs can diminish the future clinical and economic burden of HCV in the Lebanese population and, for the middle-aged and elderly, provide the greatest health benefit with net cost savings.