CDC Guidlines for Hep C testing in Baby Boomers
August 16, 2012
We are writing to inform you that CDC published “Recommendations for the Identification of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Persons Born During 1945–1965” in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The new recommendations call for all Americans born from 1945 through 1965 or “baby boomers” to get a one-time blood test for the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
In the United States, hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants and primary liver cancer, which is the fastest-rising cause of cancer-related deaths. People born from 1945 through 1965 currently account for more than 75% of adults infected with hepatitis C in the U.S. and are five times more likely to be infected than other adults. Each year, more than 15,000 Americans, most of them baby boomers, die from hepatitis C-related illness, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. Unfortunately, over the last decade, deaths have been increasing steadily. Without expanded access to HCV testing, care, and treatment, mortality among those living with HCV infection will continue to rise into the next decade.
Conducting a one-time hepatitis C blood test for all persons born from 1945 through 1965 as a standard part of medical care will be critical to increasing diagnosis of persons with hepatitis C and taking the first step in linking HCV-infected persons to care and treatment. New treatments are now available that can cure up to 75% of infections, and even more promising treatments are expected in the future. CDC estimates that implementation of these new recommendations will identify more than 800,000 additional people with hepatitis C. Linking these individuals to appropriate care and treatment would prevent the costly consequences of liver cancer and other chronic liver diseases and ultimately save more than 120,000 lives.
Ongoing collaboration will be key as we continue to work toward identifying more Americans with hepatitis C and preventing the adverse effects of this infection. We would like to thank those who assisted CDC in development of these recommendations and we look forward to working to promote their implementation.
Kevin A. Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., F.F.P.H.
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention