Injection drug users, pregnant women, men who have sex with men – who needs to be screened for HCV? Click here for the latest recommendations.
In 2015, the CDC estimates about 34,000 new HCV infections occurred-nearly triple the incidence in 2011.1 The increase is attributed to rising rates of injection drug use, especially among those aged < 30 years.
Data show that from 2011-2014, rates of HCV detection among women of childbearing age rose 22%, and the proportion of infants born to HCV-infected mothers increased 68%. The risk of mother-to-child transmission of HCV is thought to be low (3% to 5%).2
Although the risk is very low, keep in mind that HCV can be contracted through sexual activity. According to the CDC, 15% to 20% of patients with acute HCV infection (estimated duration of infection, < 6 months) contracted it through sexual exposure. Having multiple sexual partners is a risk factor for acute HCV infection, and the risk is higher in men who have sex with men.3,4
The CDC has mandated HCV testing of high-risk populations such as injection drug users and all “baby boomers” (adults born between 1945 and 1965). HCV testing also is recommended for persons with HIV infection and those who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987, were ever on long-term hemodialysis, or have persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels. Other persons who should be screened are those who received transfusions or organ transplants before July 1992 or from an HCV-positive donor.5 Infants of mothers with HCV infection should also be tested for HCV.2
According to the CDC, the need for routine HCV testing is uncertain in these populations.5
The incidence of hepatitis C (HCV) virus tripled in the United States between 2011 and 2015; in approximately the same time frame (2011-2014) the proportion of infants born to mothers infected with HCV rose by 68%. The numbers call for increased vigilance across the helathcare delivery system -- and it can begin with primary care.Click through this short slide show for reminders about special populations who need extra surveillance.Â For more information1. CDC. Summary of Trends in Viral Hepatitis â United States, 2015. 2. Increased Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Detection in Women of Childbearing Age and Potential Risk for Vertical Transmission - United States and Kentucky, 2011â2014. MMWR. 2016;65:705-710.3. Sexual Transmission and Viral Hepatitis Key Facts About Sexually Active Adults and Viral Hepatitis.4. CDC. 2015 Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines.5. CDC Testing Recommendations for Hepatitis C Virus Infection.