New CDC Recommendations for Hepatitis C

Anyone born from 1945 through 1965 should be tested for hepatitis C

According to the CDC, an estimated 3.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C, and 75% of them are baby boomers.

It’s not clear why the incidence is so high among boomers, but as this population ages, the rate of complications and related deaths have increased, rising steadily over the past decade.

As a result of this growing concern, the CDC recently updated its risk-based guidelines to include all baby boomers. Other factors supporting this recommendation include:

  • Up to 1.5 million of those with chronic hepatitis C are unaware of their infection.
  • Many baby boomers do not know how or when they were infected. They may also be reluctant to discuss current or past drug use, so it may be difficult to determine an accurate level of risk.
  • Testing is cost effective. A one-time blood test determines exposure to the virus. A second test confirms whether the virus is still present.
  • Therapies available today can cure up to 75% of those treated.

Current therapeutic approach

Treatment for chronic hepatitis C depends on genotype.

Patients with genotype 1 (the most common in the U.S.) are generally given triple therapy: pegylated interferon and ribavirin, plus either boceprevir or telaprevir.

Patients with genotype 2 and 3 are treated with dual therapy: pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

Therapeutic advances have shortened the course of treatment (increasing patient compliance) and strengthened effectiveness (improving outcomes). Patients typically experience side effects, such as fatigue and flu like symptoms, which cease once treatment is completed.

New therapeutic approaches are currently in phase 3 clinical trials and could be available as early as next year.

Although people may live with chronic hepatitis C for 20 to 30 years without symptoms, the long-term risk for liver disease, cirrhosis, cancer and death is high. For every 100 people infected with the hepatitis C virus:

  • 75-85 will develop chronic infection
  • 60-70 will develop chronic liver disease
  • 5-20 will develop cirrhosis
  • 1-5 will die of cirrhosis or liver cancer

The CDC estimates that screening baby boomers for hepatitis C would prevent more than 120,000 deaths.

If you have questions about the screening or treatment for hepatitis C, or questions concerning a specific patient, please call 703-698-8960 and ask to speak to Dr. Pete Scudera, one of the leading liver specialists in the region.

Access to leading edge treatments

Through our long standing relationship with the Inova Center for Liver Diseases, our patients have access to the most advance liver care, and many have received curative therapies. At the Center, Dr. Zobair Younossi, a nationally known researcher, has multiple clinical trials of cutting edge therapies for liver diseases, including HCV. Although GANV physicians do not conduct trials, they evaluate candidates for treatment and stay in touch with the most current and future therapeutic approaches.

Back to Main Blog