Screen for hepatitis C in high-risk adults, task force advises

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 10, 2012

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An expert panel suggests physicians test for hepatitis C virus infection in asymptomatic adults at high risk of contracting the disease. Such individuals include those with a history of intravenous drug use or blood transfusions before 1992, said the draft recommendation issued Nov. 26 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The panel stopped short of supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines that call for testing all adults born between 1946 and 1965. Instead, the task force encourages physicians to consider screening patients in that age group.

There were an estimated 16,000 acute hepatitis C infections reported in the U.S. in 2009, the CDC said. About 3.2 million people have a chronic infection.

The task force statement was based on a review of trials and clinical studies that assessed the outcomes and harms of hepatitis C screening. Task force members also examined data on the harms of diagnostic liver biopsies.

The proposed recommendations mark a change from the task force’s 2004 guidance that said there was insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening adults at high risk of infection. Health professionals and others can comment on the proposal online until Dec. 24 at 5 p.m. EST (link).

Note: This item originally appeared at

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