Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Many of the 2.7–3.9 million persons living with HCV infection are unaware they are infected and do not receive care (e.g., education, counseling, and medical monitoring) and treatment.
CDC estimates that although persons born during 1945—1965 comprise an estimated 27% of the population, they account for approximately three fourths of all HCV infections in the United States, 73% of HCV-associated mortality, and are at greatest risk for liver cancer and other HCV-related liver disease.
With the development of new therapies that can halt disease progression and provide a virologic cure (i.e., can eradicate HCV from the bloodstream of infected patients) in most persons, targeted testing and linkage to care for infected persons in this birth cohort is expected to reduce the numbers of HCV-related cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver transplants, and deaths.
CDC has revised previous recommendations for HCV testing to recommend one-time testing without prior ascertainment of HCV risk for persons born during 1945—1965, a population with a disproportionately high prevalence of HCV infection and related disease.
Persons identified as having HCV infection should receive a brief screening for alcohol use and intervention as clinically indicated, followed by referral to appropriate care for HCV infection and related conditions.
These recommendations do not replace previous guidelines for HCV testing that are based on known risk factors and clinical indications. Rather, they define an additional target population for testing: persons born during 1945—1965.