The new Recommendation Statement on screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) this week represents a critical step toward achieving the prevention, care and treatment goals outlined in the federal government’s Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. The new recommendation updates and expands the 2004 USPSTF recommendation, giving a “Grade B” recommendation for HCV screening in persons at high risk for infection while now also including one-time screening for HCV infection in adults born between 1945 and 1965 in that recommendation. (Read the complete new USPSTF HCV screening recommendations .)
Creating more standard, consistent federal recommendations on hepatitis C testing was, in fact, one of the strategies articulated in the Action Plan. The new USPSTF Recommendation Statement aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Recommendations for the Identification of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Persons Born During 1945–1965 [PDF 879 KB], issued in 2012. In that document, the CDC recommended that in addition to offering screening for persons at high risk, all adults born between 1945 and 1965 should be screened once for HCV. These aligned recommendations from USPSTF and CDC send a clear signal to health care professionals, policymakers, and the public that screening for HCV is effective and should be conducted. It is hoped that this alignment of recommendations will reduce confusion among healthcare providers, increase awareness of the importance of hepatitis C screening and improve testing rates—ultimately identifying millions of Americans previously unaware of their infection status and preventing the associated liver disease and deaths attributable to undiagnosed chronic HCV infection.
For more information about the new recommendation, see these resources:
- USPSTF bulletin announcing the new recommendation [PDF 279 KB]
- A consumer fact sheet about the new recommendation [PDF 125KB]
- The Recommendation Statement published in the Annals of Internal Medicine
- A related editorial in the current issue of the Annals that I co-authored with Dr. Quyen Ngo-Metzger of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Dr. John Ward, Director of the Division of Viral Hepatitis at CDC
- Additional information, including the clinical summary are available on the USPSTF web page for this recommendation