Risk-based testing in primary care missed most patients with HCV

Risk-based testing for hepatitis C virus in the primary care setting may have missed more than 80% of patients with hepatitis C virus antibodies, according to researchers from the CDC.

“This may be due in part to the difficulty in capturing complete patient risk history (eg, injection drug use) in [electronic medical records (EMR)] to support the implementation of comprehensive risk-based HCV testing algorithms,” the researchers wrote in Clinical Infectious Diseases. “HCV-infected persons who are not aware of their status cannot receive further clinical evaluation, antiviral treatment, and are unlikely to benefit from preventive services or secondary prevention recommendations (eg, reduction in alcohol use and other lifestyle changes) aimed at limiting disease progression and reducing liver-related morbidity and mortality.”

The researchers evaluated EMR data from patients enrolled in the Birth Cohort Evaluation to Advance Screening and Testing for HCV (BEST-C) study to estimate how many patients with HCV remained unidentified after risk-based testing in the primary care setting. They also quantified the prevalence of HCV antibody positivity among primary care patients and determined predictors of HCV infection.

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