As we begin the observance of Hepatitis Awareness Month, Acting Surgeon General Dr. Boris D. Lushniak has released a timely Surgeon General’s Perspective [PDF 936KB] in the May issue of Public Health Reports . In publication since 1878, the peer-reviewed Public Health Reports is the official journal of the U.S. Public Health Service.
In his column, Dr. Lushniak discusses the disproportionate prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the U.S. among individuals born between 1945 and 1965, the silent nature of the disease’s progression, and the consequences of undiagnosed and untreated HCV infection. He also addresses the promising advances in HCV treatment that can now cure up to 90% of those treated and the aligned recommendations of the CDC and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that all individuals in that birth cohort – often referred to as “baby boomers” – be tested for HCV infection, regardless of risk history
He observes, “As a fellow baby boomer, I am very concerned that one in 40 baby boomers—about 2.1 million people—are infected with HCV.” Dr. Lushniak, a Rear Admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service, urges physicians and other health care providers to test all baby boomers for HCV infection to prevent liver disease and death, declaring that “Now is the time to increase routine HCV testing of baby boomers, to provide prevention counseling to improve liver health, and to link infected people to care and treatment.”
His well timed call to action to healthcare providers about the importance of following the CDC and USPSTF HCV screening recommendations for baby boomers makes an important contribution to efforts detailed in the recently updated Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis to both educate providers to reduce viral hepatitis-related health disparities and improve viral hepatitis testing, care, and treatment across the United States. We are grateful to have the Surgeon General’s voice and his office’s participation in implementing the updated Action Plan, launched just last month and will continue to collaborate with them over the next three years as we pursue the plan’s goals.
Please consider sharing the Surgeon General’s column with health care providers as well as the baby boomers in your life this month as we all work to raise awareness of the importance of HCV screening as a strategy to reduce the adverse health consequences of untreated hepatitis C. And if you are a baby boomer yourself and haven’t been tested for hepatitis C, call your provider and make an appointment!