Objective To assess disease characteristics, disease activity, and treatment patterns in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with comorbid hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Methods RA patients with concomitant HCV were identified within the Veterans Affairs Rheumatoid Arthritis Registry. HCV was defined as at least 1 diagnostic code present in medical record databases. Generalized estimating equations in linear regression models compared component and composite measures of disease activity between HCV-positive and HCV-negative patients over the study period, accounting for within-subject correlations. Similar analysis of pharmacy databases evaluated medication use within each group. Results Ninety-two of 1,706 registry participants (5.1%) were identified with concomitant HCV. At enrollment, HCV-positive patients were younger (mean ± SD 61.7 ± 7.1 years versus 67.5 ± 11.2 years; P < 0.001), more often African American (35% versus 15%; P < 0.001), and smokers (48% versus 26%; P < 0.001). In unadjusted and adjusted analyses incorporating all study visits, patient-reported outcomes (pain, tender joints, and patient global scores) were higher in HCV-positive patients, contributing to higher disease activity scores. There was no difference in physician-reported outcomes (swollen joints or physician global scores). HCV-positive patients had lower C-reactive protein levels (β -0.30 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) -0.53, -0.07], P = 0.01). Over all visits, HCV-positive patients were less likely to receive methotrexate (odds ratio [OR] 0.27 [95% CI 0.17, 0.40], P < 0.001), and more likely to receive prednisone (OR 1.41 [95% CI 1.02, 1.97], P = 0.04) and anti-tumor necrosis factor α (anti-TNFα) therapies (OR 1.51 [95% CI 1.04, 2.19], P = 0.03). Conclusion RA patients with concomitant HCV have higher disease activity scores, driven primarily by higher patient-reported measures. HCV-positive patients were more likely to be treated with prednisone and anti-TNFα therapies and less likely to receive methotrexate compared to HCV-negative patients.
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