(HealthDay News) — The prevalence of unrecognized chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) is high among baby boomers presenting to the emergency department, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in Hepatology.
James W. Galbraith, M.D., from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, and colleagues describe an early experience with integrated opt-out HCV antibody (Ab) screening of medically stable baby boomers presenting to an urban academic emergency department. The researchers examined the prevalence of unrecognized HCV infection.
The researchers found that 12.7 percent of the 2,325 HCV-unaware baby boomers opted out of HCV screening. HCV Ab tests were performed on 1,529 individuals, 170 (11.1 percent) of whom were reactive. Follow-up polymerase chain reaction was performed on 150 patients, of whom 68 percent were confirmed RNA-positive. The likelihood of HCV was higher for males versus females (14.7 versus 7.4 percent), for African-Americans versus whites (13.3 versus 8.8 percent), and for under/uninsured versus insured patients (16.8/16.9 versus 5 percent). Fifty-four percent of RNA-positive patients were successfully contacted by phone within five attempts. Initial follow-up appointments were confirmed for 70.3 percent of RNA-positive individuals who had been successfully contacted.
“We observed high prevalence of unrecognized chronic HCV infection in this series of baby boomers presenting to the emergency department, highlighting the emergency department as an important venue for high-impact HCV screening and linkage to care,” the authors write.