Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States, but newly infected patients typically are asymptomatic or have a mild illness. HCV testing is recommended for all adults born between 1945 and 1965, the persons who are more likely to have HCV but not know it.
Why Order Testing for HCV?
Identifying patients who are infected with HCV is important for the following reasons:
► Clinicians can offer counseling and options for treatment.
► Patients can take the necessary measures to limit HCV-associated disease progression, such as avoiding alcohol intake and getting needed vaccinations, including those to prevent infection with hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV).
► Transmission of HVC to an uninfected person can be minimized.
Antiviral therapy for HCV is targeted for persons who have active HCV infection. Therefore, clinicians should differentiate between those who have chronic HCV and those with resolved infection. Consider the following algorithm: