Results Support Routine HCV Testing for All People Born Between 1945 and 1964
VANCOUVER, BC–(Marketwired – March 31, 2016) – A study by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE), in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, found the peak growth of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic in North America among individuals born between 1945 and 1964 (“baby boomers”) occurred when they were young children. Historically, stigma has surrounded the HCV epidemic among baby boomers because of the presumed link to risky behaviours, such as injection drug use experimentation, high-risk sexual practices or unsafe tattooing. Moreover, while North America does face a more recent HCV epidemic among people who inject drugs, the majority of those living with HCV are baby boomers — many of whom were infected through medical procedures or accidental exposures in hospitals decades earlier.
The BC-CfE study revises by 15 years previous estimates of the exponential growth phase of the North American HCV genotype 1a epidemic, the region’s most dominant form of HCV. The oldest members of the baby boomer cohort were roughly five years of age at the peak of the epidemic in 1950.
The peak exponential growth of HCV corresponds to an overall increase in medical procedures following World War II — much earlier than the peak in injection drug use that occurred in North America around 1969. A plateau in the spread of HCV was observed between 1960 and 1990, consistent with the hypothesis that changes in injection technology were a driving factor.