According to researchers, more than 6% of baby boomers tested positive for hepatitis C virus antibodies during a recent 7-month period at a small-city New Jersey ED — twice as high as the CDC estimate for the high-risk group.
Baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965 account for approximately 81% of all patients living with chronic HCV, according to Julia K. Cornett, MD, infectious disease physician in the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School department of medicine, and colleagues. Since 2013, the United States Preventive Services Task Force has recommended one-time HCV screening for these patients, but testing rates remain low, indicating that national guidelines have had only a minimal impact, Cornett and colleagues said.
The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study using results from an opt-out HCV screening that targeted baby boomers in a large ED that draws socioeconomically diverse patients from the small New Jersey city where it is located and the surrounding suburbs. They found a high prevalence of HCV in study participants, but also a lower-than-expected overall rate of positive HCV viral load.