Zobair M. Younossi, MD, MPH, FACG
Zobair M. Younossi, MD, MPH, FACG

Poster 1815 Implementation of Baby Boomer Hepatitis C (HCV) Screening and Linking to Care in Gastroenterology (GE) Practices: A Multi-Center Pilot Study

Author Insight from Zobair M. Younossi, MD, MPH FACG, Center for Liver Diseases, Inova Fairfax Hospital

What is new and important for clinicians?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPTF) have recommended screening for hepatitis C (HCV) in the baby boomer cohort. This is because the risk-based screening for HCV patients has been difficult for the medical community, and therefore, it has been difficult to provide appropriate medical care in treating the disease.

In order to understand the feasibility of the USPSTF recommendation, we implemented a screening program in 5 clinical gastroenterology (GE) practices to identify baby boomers who could potentially be infected with HCV by collecting a blood sample using the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test. Results became available to patients and providers within 20 minutes, and those who tested positive were linked to appropriate medical care to treat hepatitis C.

Our data show that the process of screening for HCV and the linkage of the HCV positive patient to care in GE practices are feasible and relatively easy. Nevertheless, baby boomers seen in GE practices appeared to have a lower prevalence of HCV, but the linkage to care occurred at all the centers. We also show that the HCV-antibody patients had lower quality of life, as shown by more fatigue, poorer concentration, less activity, and decreased levels of energy. Therefore, it is important to create a strategy to maximize both HCV screening and linkages to care with appropriate providers in order to successfully treat patients infected with HCV.

What do patients need to know?

The group with the highest prevalence of HCV is baby boomers (people who were born between 1945 and 1965), with approximately 3-4% becoming infected. More than 50% of people infected with hepatitis C do not know they are infected because they have no obvious symptoms. If HCV is left untreated, HCV can lead to more serious conditions like cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure, liver cancer, and death. There is also evidence that HCV infection is associated with tremendous economic burden as well as lost years of life, impaired quality of life, and work productivity. The high rates of prevalence and undiagnosed condition has prompted the CDC and the USPSTF to make screening recommendations to include a one-time hepatitis C screening of all individuals in this group. For more HCV information please go to: www.cdc/gov/knowmorehepatitis.

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Author Contact

Zobair M. Younossi, MD, MPH FACG, Center for Liver Diseases, Inova Fairfax Hospital zobair.yonossi@inova.org

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