The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) current age-based screening recommendation for hepatitis C virus (HCV) is five times more effective in identifying patients currently or previously infections with HCV compared to the previous screening strategy, reports a new study presented at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases’ AASLD Liver Meeting, in Boston, MA.

The CDC and the U.S. Preventative Services Taskforce (USPSTF) presently recommend one-time HCV testing for individuals born in the birth cohort (BC) from 1945–1965. Three independent trials were conducted to determine the relative probability of identifying HCV infections using BC testing vs. prevailing screening protocol (eg, those who have ever used or are currently using injectable drugs or have certain medication conditions such as HIV infection). From December 2012 to February 2014, HCV BC testing was conducted at three primary healthcare centers using randomized controlled trial designs. Patients from the BC with no documentation of prior HCV test or infection were randomly assigned to receive a one-time HCV test or the prevailing screening protocol (control).

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A total of nearly 33,000 patients from the BC testing group and control group were screened. Overall, the BC testing was five times more likely to identify HCV+ patients vs. the control protocol (RR 5.2, 95% CI 2.8–9.5); period had no significant effect on outcome (P=0.20).

These findings suggest that the implementation of birth cohort testing in the primary care setting is feasible and can be effective in identifying HCV+ patients that may otherwise not receiving screening, the authors conclude.

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