Rapid Hepatitis C Testing Improves Quality of Life Among Young Adults

Same-day results increase the number of individuals who get tested and treated for HCV.

Routine, rapid testing of hepatitis C virus (HCV) increased the quality of life among young adults who engage in injection drug use and may be more cost effective than standard practices.

In a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, investigators sought to evaluate the clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness of testing strategies among individuals aged 15 to 30 years at urban community health centers.

The CDC currently recommends physicians screen for HCV in patients who are at high risk. High-risk individuals include baby boomers, those diagnosed with HIV, children born to HCV-positive women, and individuals who engage in injection drug use.

This strategy is referred to as routine screening and tests all individuals in a community with a high prevalence of HCV.

Standard testing requires patients to return for a second appointment to receive the results, whereas rapid testing ensures patients receive their results on the same day the sample was taken.

The investigators used simulation modeling to evaluate the 2 testing strategies, and found that routine, rapid testing was cost effective and increased quality of life. Additionally, compared with targeted, standard testing by a physician, dedicated counselors who initiated the tests identified more cases of HCV and reduced the proportion of deaths.

“When standard testing was applied, patients were less likely to come back for that second appointment to get their results, which in turn meant more people weren’t getting the treatment they so desperately needed,” said lead investigator Sabrina Assoumou, MD, MPH. “Our results indicate that we must initiate rapid [testing] strategies so that more people will know their status and get treatment more quickly.”

An estimated 3.2 million individuals in the United States have HCV, with a large proportion who are unaware of their status. According to the CDC, acute cases of HCV have more than doubled since 2010, with most new cases among young, white individuals with a history of injection drug use.

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