(HealthDay News) — An emergency department-based screening and diagnostic testing program identified high prevalence of hepatitis C virus antibody positivity in adults, according to a study published online August 4 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Douglas A.E. White, MD, from Highland Hospital in Oakland, CA, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study to evaluate the results of an emergency department-based hepatitis C virus testing program. Data were included for 26,639 unique adults aged ≥18 years who presented to the emergency department during the six-month study.

The researchers found that 9.7% of the participants completed hepatitis C virus screening (2,581 adults) or diagnostic tests (553 adults), of whom 267 were antibody positive (prevalence, 10.3%). Factors that correlated with testing positive for hepatitis C virus included injection drug use, being homeless, diagnostic testing, birth cohort, and male gender. Fifty-one percent of those who tested positive for hepatitis C virus antibody had documentation of result disclosure; 67% underwent confirmatory ribonucleic acid testing, of whom 70% had a positive result. Forty-five percent (57 patients) of the 126 patients with confirmed positive results arranged follow-up appointments; 30 patients attended follow-up.

“Challenges encountered with hepatitis C virus screening included result disclosure, confirmatory testing, and linkage to care,” the authors write. “Our results warrant continued efforts to develop and evaluate policies for emergency department-based hepatitis C virus screening.”

Two authors disclosed receiving grants from Gilead Sciences while conducting the study.

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