Cost-effectiveness of screening blood donors for hepatitis C and non-A, non-B, non-C hepatitis

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The current approach to screening for hepatitis C and non-A, non-B, non-C hepatitis in French blood transfusion centers involves a combination of a transaminase assay and tests for antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc) and antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV). A decision-analysis model was used to assess the cost-effectiveness ratio of this approach compared to the former approach, which included only transaminase and anti-HBc screening. Cost data were collected by a questionnaire sent to 26 centers throughout France. The average costs of diagnostic kits, equipment, staff, and administration were calculated. Estimates of prevalence and sensitivity values came from the medical literature. The cost-effectiveness ratio was expressed in French francs per infected donor detected. A sensitivity analysis of the variables in the model was performed to estimate the validity of the cost-effectiveness ratio. For 100,000 donations the incremental cost of the current approach reached FrF 2,566,111 (about US $ 500,000), with a marginal effectiveness of 180 donations detected. The sensitivity analysis showed the effect of prevalence on the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. Transfusion centers may change their screening approach in areas of high or low prevalence of hepatitis C in France.