HealthDay News — The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for hepatitis C virus infection in all adults. This recommendation forms the basis of a final recommendation statement published online March 2 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Roger Chou, M.D., from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues conducted a systematic review to update the 2013 review on HCV screening to inform the USPSTF. Data were included from 179,230 participants in eight randomized clinical trials of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy versus placebo or an outdated antiviral regimen, 48 other treatment studies, and 33 cohort studies.
The researchers found that no study assessed the effects of screening versus no screening. One new study found similar diagnostic yield for risk-based screening and birth-cohort screening, assuming perfect implementation (sensitivity, 82 and 76 percent, respectively). Small improvements in some quality-of-life and functional outcomes were seen after DAA treatment versus before treatment. A sustained virologic response after antiviral therapy was associated with a reduced risk for all-cause mortality and hepatocellular carcinoma. Based on these findings, the USPSTF concluded with moderate certainty that screening for HCV infection has substantial net benefit. This recommendation applies to all asymptomatic adults aged 18 to 79 years (B recommendation).
“People with hepatitis C do not always feel sick and may not know they have it,” USPSTF chair Douglas K. Owens, M.D., said in a statement. “Screening is key to finding this infection early, when it’s easier to treat and cure, helping reduce illnesses and deaths.”