By Amy Orciari Herman
Edited by André Sofair, MD, MPH, and William E. Chavey, MD, MS
Some 9% of adults who underwent hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening at four U.S. emergency departments that adopted universal screening had positive antibody results, according to an MMWR study.
Researchers studied EDs in Alabama, California, Maryland, and Massachusetts that offered universal HCV antibody screening to adults who did not know their infection status. Over a 3- to 4-month period in 2015-2016, roughly 14,000 adults were screened. Among the other findings:
- Positive HCV antibody tests were more common among those born between 1945 and 1965 than among those born later (14% vs. 7%), although the younger group still accounted for nearly half of positive results.
- In the older cohort, positive results were more common among black than white patients (16% vs. 12%); in the younger cohort, positive results were more common among whites (15% vs. 3%).
- Men were more likely than women to test positive, regardless of age.
- Of those with positive antibody tests who underwent HCV RNA testing, 62% had positive results, indicating current infection.
The researchers acknowledge that reimbursement for testing is a “crucial barrier” to universal screening.