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Experts Propose Age-Based Hepatitis C Testing

Screening People Born From 1946 to 1970 Would Prevent Advanced Disease, Model Shows; Other Experts Want More Evidence

Age-Based Hepatitis C Testing: Other Views

Currently, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which issues recommendations on testing and other health issues, does not recommend routine testing, says Virginia Moyer, MD, chair of the task force.

The recommendation on hepatitis C testing is not technically current, she says, as it was issued in 2004. "Our goal is to update recommendations every five years, sooner if important new evidence becomes available," she tells WebMD.

"I think this one has been of lower priority for updating, perhaps because there has not been a lot of new evidence, nor has there been a widespread call for a change. From the point of view of the task force, this is the kind of evidence that might help us move forward with an update."

The model alone would not be enough to change the recommendation, says Moyer, who is also professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

"We would not base a recommendation solely on modeling, but we do use modeling to help us understand the trade-offs, which is what these authors are attempting to evaluate," she says.

When the task force does take up the issue of hepatitis C testing, "I think this is a piece of information they need to take a look at," says Aaron Glatt, MD, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and president of St. Joseph Hospital in Bethpage, N.Y.

He reviewed the findings for WebMD but was not involved in the study.

The researchers should refine the model to zero in on those in the age group with the most risk, he says. "There may be ways to knock down that 100 million people to 40 million," he says.

For instance, he says, by asking about risk factors in the past, some people may be declared low risk. The key, he says, is for people to think of risk factors from decades ago, not current ones.

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