Hepatitis C testing needs to reach more at-risk people.
Despite a 2013 recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task force that all baby boomers be tested for hepatitis C virus (HCV), testing levels in the 2 years that followed the advice remained very low, researchers reported today.
And a Veterans Affairs (VA) analysis highlights more effective and well-tolerated treatment options.
Testing still underused
About 3.5 million people in the United States, most of them born between 1945 and 1965, are thought to have chronic HCV infection, which can lead to related diseases such as chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Early identification can lead to treatments to reduce the risk. Researchers published their findings on testing trends in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Researchers from the American Cancer Society (ACS) based their findings on responses from 24,000 baby boomers who took part in the National Health Interview Survey. From 2013 to 2015, HCV testing prevalence rose only slightly, from 12.3% to 13.8%. The investigators estimated that of 76.2 million baby boomers in 2015, only 10.5 million reported receiving HCV testing.
People on Medicare, Medicaid, or military insurance had higher HCV testing rates compared with those with private insurance. Testing levels were greater in men and among college graduates.
“These findings underscore the need for increased awareness for HCV testing among healthcare providers and baby boomers and other innovative strategies such as state-mandated HCV testing,” the authors concluded.
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