Age-based screening recommendations for chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection targeted to Americans born between 1945 and 1965 were announced by the CDC. This “birth cohort” screening strategy, a major change from the CDC’s former recommendation to screen only patients at high risk for HCV infection, has important public health implications, according to the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).
Deaths resulting from HCV infection are increasing, with three-fourths of the 2007 deaths among those born in the baby boom generation, according to CDC data. The CDC adds that HCV deaths now exceed deaths resulting from AIDS.
HCV infection is a major public challenge involving an anticipated wave of patients with advanced liver disease and cirrhosis because of years of silent chronic infection, the ACG noted. The new CDC recommendations can help identify persons who may not realize that they are infected and thereby allow for earlier, more effective treatment to halt progression to cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, and death.
HCV infection and other liver disorders will be major topics of discussion at the ACG Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course to be held October 19-24, 2012, in Las Vegas.