From the Journals

USPSTF issues draft recommendation statement for HCV screening in adults


 

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued a draft recommendation statement for screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in adolescents and adults, and now suggests that all adults aged 18-79 years receive screening.

A hepatitis C virus is shown. Wikimedia Commons/BruceBlaus

A hepatitis C virus is shown.

This proposal represents an update and expansion of its current recommendation for screening for HCV infection. The draft recommendation incorporates new evidence and would replace the recommendation made in 2013, which calls for screening in persons at high risk for infection and one-time screening in adults born between 1945 and 1965 (Grade B).

“Today, more people are infected with hepatitis C than there were a decade ago, but there are now better treatments available. The evidence now shows more people can benefit from screening; therefore, we are recommending to screen all adults ages 18-79 for hepatitis C,” task force chair Douglas K. Owens, MD, MS, said in a bulletin issued by the USPSTF.

To update the previous recommendation, the USPSTF conducted a systematic review that included a total of 97 studies. No direct evidence was found regarding the benefits of HCV screening versus no screening or repeat versus one-time screening, and no new studies analyzed the psychological and social consequences of HCV screening.

Evidence concerning direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment was more compelling given that 49 trials found DAA therapy to be associated with pooled sustained virologic response (SVR) rates between 95.5% and 98.9% across genotypes. The rate of serious adverse events caused by DAA treatment was 1.9%, and the discontinuation of treatment because of adverse events was 0.4%. In seven trials involving adolescents, SVR rates after antiviral treatment were similar to those in adults.

Achieving an SVR after DAA treatment was associated with a decreased risk in those treated of all-cause mortality (hazard ratio, 0.40; 95% confidence interval, 0.28-0.56), liver mortality (HR, 0.11; 95% CI, 0.04-0.27), cirrhosis (HR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.33-0.40), and hepatocellular carcinoma (HR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.23-0.38), compared with those who did not respond.

Because of the evidence collected, the USPSTF issued a B recommendation for HCV screening in adults and recommended screening for all people aged 18-79 years in the draft recommendation statement. “Clinicians may want to consider screening in adolescents younger than age 18 years and in adults older than age 79 years who are at high risk [for HCV],” the proposal says.

The draft recommendation statement and evidence review is available at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org. The public comment period will last until Sept. 23, 2019.

Help educate your patients about hepatitis C, their risks and treatment options using AGA patient education, which can be found in the GI Patient Center at https://www.gastro.org/practice-guidance/gi-patient-center/topic/hepatitis-c-hcv.

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