A recent piece in MedPage Today highlights HCV screening guidelines and how they affect rates of testing. It provides an overview of the evolution of HCV screening guidelines as well as current issues, particularly the discussion of the merits of universal screening vs risk-based screening. The debate is informed by issues of cost, timing and precedence– as well as by the urgency of the epidemic.
Critics caution it will be expensive to start testing everyone for HCV, and that changing the guidelines will create an additional burden for time-strapped primary care physicians. But proponents argue that there’s enough data to support the idea that universal screening would not only save lives, but also ultimately save money for health systems by catching HCV infections before they lead to more serious illnesses, like liver cancer.
Meanwhile, the landscape of hepatitis C has changed dramatically over the past decade, with the opioid epidemic driving a sharp uptick in new infections among young adults. And, starting in late 2013, the FDA approved several new antiviral drugs with minimal side effects capable of curing more than 95% of patients. Though the cures were initially expensive, market competition has since driven prices down dramatically.
Collectively, these new developments may tip the scales in favor of a universal testing approach in the near future.
Read the entire article here.