Links are available at the bottom of this note – great videos. Alan
At least 3.5 million Americans are living with HCV, though it’s likely that there are many more. Approximately three-fourths of this group were born between 1945 and 1965 — the baby boomer generation. Since hepatitis C disease usually has no symptoms early on, about half of those living with it don’t know it.
Because hepatitis C can now be easily cured, one of Project Inform’s most important objectives is to ensure that people who might be at risk for it are tested and treated. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention strongly recommend that all “baby-boomers (born between 1945 and 1965) get at least one hepatitis C test during their lifetime” without the need for a risk assessment or questions asked.
However, physicians and other medical providers may not offer the test themselves, so it is important that patients ask for it. But why? Well, as of the last published data in 2014, less than 10% of people with hep C have been treated and cured. That number has likely improved since then, but there are still millions of Americans in need of treatment.
Last year, Project Inform was honored to receive $500,000 in funding from Quest Diagnostics to support our hepatitis C testing promotion efforts. Among the activities we are carrying out with that support is the production of a series of videos — for patients and providers — to encourage testing of baby-boomers and others. Our first video (in English and Spanish subtitles) was just completed, so please take a moment to check it out!
Please pass these links [English: https://youtu.be/pQsqcbd2508, Spanish: https://youtu.be/MPMZCu5dOKc] along to others you think could benefit from this information. You can also easily embed and re-size the video on your website with these easy instructions, And know that we are more than happy to answer any questions about hepatitis C testing, care and treatment, or prevention on our Help4Hep helpline at 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443, www.help4hep.org).
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: It is estimated that there are over 3 million people in the United States living with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Risk factors for infection include, but are not limited to, injection drug use, history of incarceration, HIV coinfection, and blood transfusion prior to July 1992. Several direct acting antiviral medications have recently been approved to treat, and in the majority of cases, cure HCV.
The first step in identifying infected persons so that they may be cured of this infection is a blood test for antibodies to HCV.
The greatest burden of HCV is among persons born from 1945 through 1965; the baby boomer birth cohort. Therefore, in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published updated HCV antibody testing recommendations to include one-time testing of persons in the birth cohort. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published similar recommendations the following year. Additionally, in recent years there has been an increase in HCV infections related to injection drug use among younger people.
We used commercial insurance claims data to describe trends in HCV antibody testing over a 10-year period (2005 – 2014), both to assess the impact of the CDC and USPSTF testing recommendations, and to better understanding how trends varied by gender, age group, and geography.
Hepatitis C virus infection is one of our nation’s most pressing public health concerns for infectious disease specialists and hepatologists. Not only did acute HCV infections increase 250% from 2010 to 2014, a recent report from the CDC shows that more people die of HCV in the United States than any other infectious disease, with a total 19,659 reported HCV–related deaths in 2014. Almost all of these deaths are due to the impact of chronic HCV on the liver (cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, liver transplantation, and/or hepatocellular carcinoma or primary liver cancer).
Policymakers and clinicians have worked aggressively in the past decade to address the HCV epidemic, developing and implementing new CDC screening recommendations and a sweeping strategic plan, the HHS national viral hepatitis action plan, to identify infected individuals, prevent transmission and reduce mortality by the year 2020. But the most significant obstacle of combatting HCV is that most HCV–infected individuals are asymptomatic, until late in the disease process, with at least half those chronically infected unaware of their status. Given the recent availability of highly curative, all-oral, short-duration antiviral therapies, this is both a tragedy and a major public health challenge.
Increasingly, more clinicians have become aware of the need to find people who are at risk for infection and encourage them to get tested. However, a new study underscores the human consequence if we are unsuccessful.