Hepatitis C screening is very important for everyone in the Baby Boomer cohort.
Hepatitis C screening is recommended for baby boomers as they face higher viral infection risk. Those who were born between 1945 and 1965 – baby boomers – have a five times greater risk of having been exposed to hepatitis C infection. For this reason, the CDC Task Force has recommended that those born during that time period be screened for hepatitis C.
Unfortunately, the screening blood test for hepatitis C is often not conducted on baby boomers, even if they go for routine medical checkups.
Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System developed a way to improve hepatitis C screening making it a regular part of patient checkup. The method involves electronic medical record alerts.
The automated alert would be set on a person’s electronic medical file and would send a notification if a person falls into the risk category, reminding the doctor to conduct the screening test and providing them with informational material on the subject.
Researcher Monica Konerman said, “A large part of the success was figuring out how to take the logistical work away, which involves more than looking at a patient’s date of birth.”
Although it isn’t entirely clear why baby boomers are at a higher risk for hepatitis C, the CDC suggests they may have become infected during the 70s and 80s, when hepatitis C rates were the highest and donated blood and organs weren’t screened for the infection.
Hepatitis C can go without symptoms for many years. This is why screening is so important to ensure the infection is caught early on.
Dr. Konerman concluded, “The availability of direct-acting antiviral agents has been a game-changer. Previously, many providers thought screening had low utility: (that) the treatment was terrible and didn’t work well. Today, short courses of all oral treatments are highly effective and can prevent progressive liver disease.”
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