Only 8.3% of the 60,722 eligible patients at 14 community health centers were screened for hepatitis C virus according to 2013 guidelines that call for testing all patients born between 1945 and 1965, regardless of their risk profile, according to data published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
The data note that women were less likely to be screened than men in every race/ethnic group, with black Hispanics, white non-Hispanics and black non-Hispanics having the highest probability of being screened.
“Hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening can reduce health inequities due to undiagnosed, untreated infection,” researcher Erica Turse, DO, MPH, of the University of Mississippi Medical Center said in a prepared statement. “Swift intervention is the best shot these patients have to avoid cirrhosis, carcinoma and end-stage liver disease.”
Researchers from Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and two Florida clinics conducted the large-scale electronic health record review to hone in screening gaps among eligible patients under the birth year criteria. Earlier guidelines took a risk-based approach to screening.
The researchers analyzed a de-identified dataset obtained through electronic health records from a large national network of community health centers with locations in Florida, Utah, California, Kansas, and New Mexico.
Patients were considered eligible for screening if they had a patient office visit between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013 and were not known to have an existing HCV diagnosis. The authors noted that there was limited awareness of the birth cohort screening guidelines, which were issued in 2013, and recommend that the change in screening practices should be further assessed.
1. Cook N, Turse EP, Garcia AS, et al. Hepatitis C Virus Infection Screening Within Community Health Centers. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2016, Vol. 116, 6-11. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2016.001