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Baby Boomers 5 Times More Likely to Have Hep C

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By    |   Thursday, 28 Jul 2016 09:17 AM

Baby boomers are five times more likely to have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, yet most fail to get tested for the virus, according to a new report.

As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force are recommending all Americans born between 1945 and 1965 the simple blood test, designed to detect and prevent illness before the virus wreaks havoc.

Investigators at the University of Michigan Health System have also recently found an easy way to help primary care physicians ensure that an HCV screening is part of the routine: Electronic medical record alerts.

Automated alert, programmed to appear if a patient is within the at-risk age group, remind doctors to issue the test and provide educational materials about the virus.

Implemented in fall 2015 in primary care clinics throughout the UM health system, the strategy contributed to an eightfold boost in screening in the first six months alone.

"A large part of the success was figuring out how to take the logistical work away, which involves more than looking at a patient's date of birth," says Dr. Monica Konerman, a hepatologist at the University of Michigan who treats patients facing the prospect of hepatitis damaging their liver.

According to the CDC, many boomers were probably infected during the 1970s and 1980s, before screenings of donated blood and organs became available in 1992.

Hepatitis C can be asymptomatic for decades. The screening test for hepatitis C seeks to detect the virus antibody. If the hepatitis C antibody is detected, a confirmation test for the virus' RNA (genetic material) is recommended to confirm chronic infection and antiviral medication can eliminate it.

"The availability of direct-acting antiviral agents has been a game-changer," says Konerman. "Previously, many providers thought screening had low utility: (that) the treatment was terrible and didn't work well. Today, short courses of all oral treatments are highly effective and can prevent progressive liver disease."

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Baby boomers are five times more likely to have the hepatitis C virus, yet most fail to get tested for the virus, according to a new report.
hep, c, hepatitis, baby, boomer, virus
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2016-17-28
Thursday, 28 Jul 2016 09:17 AM
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