June 25, 2013

American College of Gastroenterology Applauds U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for New Hepatitis C Testing Recommendation



June 25, 2013, 1:04 p.m. EDT

BETHESDA, Md., June 25, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) praises the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for updating the hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening recommendations for all adults born between 1945 to 1965, the "boomer" generation. HCV is the most common chronic blood-borne disease in the United States and is a leading cause of complications from chronic liver disease.

The USPSTF members concluded that "the benefit of screening for HCV infection in persons in the birth cohort is likely similar to the benefit of screening in persons at higher risk for infection." A similar screening was recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2012.

Gastroenterologists treat patients with liver disease, and, along with their liver specialist colleagues in hepatology, are on the front line treating patients with chronic viral hepatitis. "The American College of Gastroenterology recognizes the clinical challenges and realities of screening and treating chronic hepatitis C in community settings and is pleased that more undiagnosed patients can start getting the medical care they need upon diagnosis," said ACG President Ronald J. Vender, MD, FACG.

There is significant clinical evidence that, based on age alone, screening among asymptomatic adults can result in better outcomes by earlier treatment. New treatments for hepatitis C are more effective than ever in curing the infection, and may halt progression to cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer and death.

About Hepatitis CIn the United States, Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common chronic blood-borne infection, the most common cause of chronic liver disease contributing to progressive liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer, and is the most frequent cause for liver transplantation. Hepatitis C is spread primarily by contact with blood and blood products. The use of injection illicit drugs is the most common mode of disease transmission including those people who injected illicit drugs only one time many years ago.

People who received blood transfusions, transfusion of blood products or organ donations prior to 1992, when sensitive tests for HCV were introduced for blood screening, are at risk for hepatitis C infection, as are persons who received clotting factors prior to 1987. Other persons at risk for hepatitis C include long-term kidney dialysis patients, people with tattoos and body piercing other than pierced ears, health care workers after exposures (i.e., needle stick or splashes to the eye) from the blood of an infected person while on the job, infants born to HCV-infected mothers, people with high-risk sexual behavior, multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases, people who snort cocaine using shared equipment, and people who have shared toothbrushes, razors and other personal items with a family member who is HCV-infected.

About the American College of GastroenterologyFounded in 1932, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) is an organization with an international membership of more than 12,000 individuals from 80 countries. The College is committed to serving the clinically oriented digestive disease specialist through its emphasis on scholarly practice, teaching and research. The mission of the College is to serve the evolving needs of physicians in the delivery of high quality, scientifically sound, humanistic, ethical, and cost-effective health care to gastroenterology patients. www.gi.org

SOURCE American College of Gastroenterology


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