The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends risk-based screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection during pregnancy.1 However, the prevalence of HCV among pregnant women in the United States is on the rise. From 2009 to 2014, HCV infection present at delivery increased 89%.2 In addition, the risk of an HCV-infected mother transmitting the infection to her baby is about 4% to 7% per pregnancy.3 Currently, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases recommend universal HCV screening in pregnancy.4
Researchers at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, a tertiary care center, presented survey findings on HCV screening among ObGyns at ACOG’s 2019 Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.5 Katherine G. Koniares, MD, and colleagues sought to assess the opinions and clinical practices of ObGyns by emailing a 10-question electronic survey to providers. A total of 38 of 41 providers (93%) responded to the survey.
Survey results show lack of knowledge on risk factors
In response to the question, “Which pregnant patients do you believe should be screened for HCV,” 43.2% of providers stated “all pregnant women,” while 54.1% said “only pregnant women with risk factors for HCV.” A small percentage (2.7%) responded that they were not sure.
Providers also were asked which patients in their practice they screen for HCV. In response, 77.8% stated that they screen pregnant women for HCV based on risk factors, while 13.9% screen all pregnant patients for HCV; 8.3% do not screen for HCV.
When asked which risk factors providers use to screen patients for HCV, 42% to 85% said they screen for each indicated risk factor. Only 36% of providers, however, correctly identified all risk factors (for example, receiving blood products from donors who later tested positive for HCV; unexplained liver disease; and percutaneous/parenteral exposures in an unregulated setting, such as receiving tattoos outside a licensed parlor).
Further study needed on universal screening
The researchers assert that risk-based screening for HCV is not effective and that further research on universal HCV screening in pregnant patients is needed.