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Baby Boomers Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C
Date:6/24/2013

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) applauds the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) decision of June 24, 2013 giving a "B" rating for testing baby boomers for hepatitis C virus. This seemingly small change -- from a "C" to a "B" -- in the USPSTF rating signals an incredible change in the lives of patients who have HCV and are unaware of it. A "B" rating allows for payment by Medicare and private insurers for testing with no copayment by patients.

More than 75 percent of the estimated 3 million US citizens with HCV are baby boomers. This new USPSTF "B" rating for HCV testing of baby boomers matches its rating for HCV testing among injection drug users and others at high risk.  

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended an age-based screening strategy that required a one-time test for everyone born between 1945 and 1965. The USPSTF had initially recommended a "C" rating for this birth cohort in a draft proposal, conflicting with the CDC recommendation and creating confusion in the primary care community. The change from a "C" to a "B" rating gives primary care clinicians the absolute clarity of the hepatology community -- early detection of HCV allows for the drastically greater possibility of treatment success for patients.

HCV is usually an asymptomatic disease, and three out of four of those afflicted are unaware of their infection until their liver disease is far advanced. To allow the disease to progress to the point where a patient is showing symptoms greatly increases the danger of the disease, decreases our abilities to treat these patients, and often results in the development of liver cancer, frequently requiring liver transplantation -- at best. Liver cancer is one of the few cancers increasing in frequency and has one of the highest mortality rates. The ability of a p
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SOURCE American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD)
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