Researchers: HCV screening should not be based only on risk factors
Researchers from MedStar Health Research have presented new data on hepatitis C (HCV)-positive non-baby boomers. The data suggests that screening non-baby boomers based only on risk factors may result in significant numbers of HCV-positive people not being diagnosed.
Baby boomers are at higher risk for HCV compared to non-baby boomers. The reasons why are unknown. Some theories say that HCV transmission peaked between the 1960s and 1980s; others say that baby boomers were exposed to infected medical equipment before sufficient transmission precautions had been established. The CDC recommends that all baby boomers get tested for HCV.
Among non-baby boomers, the leading risk factors for HCV are a history of injecting drugs and having received a blood transfusion or organ donation prior to 1992.
The study showed that screening non-baby boomers based only on these risk factors could miss out a significant number of HCV-positive people.
The study, which looked at 329 non-baby boomers tested between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015, found that those over 40 with an opiate prescription were 11 times more likely to be HCV-positive. Participants were also more likely to test positive for HCV if they had a history of drug use, had Medicaid rather than private insurance, and were Caucasian.
Previous research has found a strong correlation between drug use and HCV-positive status, and this study provides further evidence of that correlation. However, the study found that more non-baby boomers with HCV are Caucasian than African American, whereas among baby boomers more African Americans are HCV-positive than Caucasians. A total of 23% of Ab+ participants did not have any of the risk factors indicated in the study.