Hepatitis C is a Global Public Health Issue

Posted on February 23, 2015

Undiagnosed and Untreated Hepatitis C is a Global Public Health Issue

Undiagnosed and untreated hepatitis C is a global public health issue, with growing numbers of patients suffering and dying from the consequences of chronic infection, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. HCV infection is typically asymptomatic until significant liver disease occurs, so a primary care provider would have few reasons to order diagnostic tests on the basis of patient presentation. In addition, the accuracy of patient recall of risk behaviors such as drug use, decreases over time.

In 2007, Hepatitis C caused about 15,000 deaths in the US, and approximately 73% of these deaths occurred among persons 45 to 64 years of age. The median age of death was 57 years, which is approximately 20 years less than the life span of the average American. The current CDC and US Prevention Services Task Force recommendation for a one-time HCV test for persons born between 1945 and 1965 is a rational approach to reducing HCV-associated morbidity and mortality, and this approach is as cost-effective as screening initiatives for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer. This population-based approach is now mandated in some US States, including New York. Despite this, many healthcare providers have limited knowledge of how to effectively screen, diagnose, treat, and manage patients infected with HCV.

The AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center (hepcresource.amjmed.com) was developed by the American Journal of Medicine (AJM) and Elsevier Multimedia Publishing to help address the global need for increased, effective HCV screening and diagnosis, and to highlight the promise of novel treatment regimens. To facilitate this global initiative, a Hep C webpage specifically tailored for audiences in India has also been launched, and is accessible through the Resource Center. Further APAC-specific webpages are in development.

A major feature of the Resource Center is an important message on Hepatitis C screening from Dr. Bryce Smith, a Research Health Scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention based in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Smith currently leads the Prevention Research and Evaluation Team in the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, and also serves as the CDC liaison to the United States Preventive Services Task Force for Hepatitis C–related recommendations.

Please visit the AJM Hepatitis C Resource Center and let us know your thoughts on the educational initiatives you encounter. We want to hear your opinions and your suggestions on how to improve the content.

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