Abstract Background Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects 71 million individuals, mostly residing in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) give high rates of sustained virological response (SVR) in high-income countries where a restricted range of HCV genotypes/subtypes circulate. Methods We studied United Kingdom–resident patients born in Africa to examine DAA effectiveness in LMICs where there is far greater breadth of HCV genotypes/subtypes. Viral genome sequences were determined from 233 patients. Results Full-length viral genomic sequences for 26 known subtypes and 5 previously unidentified isolates covering 5 HCV genotypes were determined. From 149 patients who received DAA treatment/retreatment, the overall SVR was 93%. Treatment failure was associated primarily with 2 subtypes, gt1l and gt4r, using sofosbuvir/ledipasvir. These subtypes contain natural resistance-associated variants that likely contribute to poor efficacy with this drug combination. Treatment failure was also significantly associated with hepatocellular carcinoma. Conclusions DAA combinations give high SVR rates despite the high HCV diversity across the African continent except for subtypes gt1l and gt4r, which respond poorly to sofosbuvir/ledipasvir. These subtypes are widely distributed across Western, Central, and Eastern Africa. Thus, in circumstances where accurate genotyping is absent, ledipasvir and its generic compounds should not be considered as a recommended treatment option.



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The Journal of Infectious Diseases



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Peninsula Medical School