Hep C screening recommended for adults, pregnant women

Hepatitis C screening is recommended for all adults and for all pregnant women, except where the prevalence is below 0.1 percent; meanwhile, the annual rate of reported acute hepatitis C cases increased to 1.2 per 100,000 population in 2018, according to recommendations and a report published in the April 10 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Sarah Schillie, M.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues updated and summarized previously published recommendations regarding testing for hepatitis C infection in the United States. The researchers issued two new recommendations for hepatitis C screening, which are applicable in all settings except where the prevalence is less than 0.1 percent: screening at least once in a lifetime for all adults aged ≥18 years and hepatitis C screening for all pregnant women in each pregnancy.

A. Blythe Ryerson, Ph.D., also from the CDC, and colleagues determined the rate of acute hepatitis C cases reported to the CDC by age group and year during 2009 to 2018. The researchers found that 3,621 cases of acute hepatitis C were reported during 2018, representing an estimated 50,300 cases. There was an increase in the annual rate of reported acute hepatitis C cases per 100,000 population from 0.3 in 2009 to 1.2 in 2018. In 2018, there was a bimodal distribution of newly reported chronic hepatitis C cases, with the highest proportions seen among those aged 20 to 39 and 50 to 69 years.

“These findings highlight the need for immediate implementation of the new CDC universal hepatitis C screening recommendations for all adults and pregnant women,” Ryerson and colleagues write.