U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Fails Baby Boomers at Risk for Hepatitis C
Please Take 30 Minutes to Help Save Over 100,000 Lives
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force – an extremely important and influential panel of primary care and prevention experts – has updated its recommendations on hepatitis C testing and released a draft on November 26th. The draft recommendations on testing hepatitis C among injection drug users and others at high risk is a major improvement over previous guidelines (a grade “B”, meaning testing is recommended). However, the Task Force failed to match the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lifesaving recommendation of testing all those born between 1945 to 1965 for hepatitis C. It recommends only a “C” grade, which does not recommend testing everyone in this birth cohort and states that there is only a “small benefit” for testing those who do not have symptoms.
Why is this a problem?
The USPSTF’s recommendations are extremely influential. Many medical providers rely heavily on their guidelines and many insurers use the guidelines when determining what services to cover. A “C” recommendation will result in many people not being tested during routine medical visits and misses a tremendous opportunity to save lives.
The overwhelming majority of people who have hepatitis C are “Baby Boomers” – those born between 1945 and 1965. Most do not know they have hepatitis C and are at risk for advanced liver disease, liver cancer, and death.
The CDC released new hepatitis C testing guidelines earlier this year, calling for everyone in this age range to be tested once. If this happened, over 800,000 cases of hepatitis C would be identified, and up to 121,000 deaths could be avoided. These guidelines remove stigma and barriers around testing and make sure that those who are most likely to have hepatitis C are given a chance to know their status.
The hepatitis C treatment landscape is changing and improving rapidly. People need to know their hepatitis C status and be linked to care to benefit from treatment advances.
The USPSTF’s recommendation conflicts with the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Viral Hepatitis Action Plan, and the commitment from the federal government to mount a real fight against the hepatitis C epidemic. The “silent epidemic” will rage on.
How can you help?
The USPSTF’s recommendation is only a DRAFT. The Task Force is accepting public comment until December 24th and will consider that input before making a final recommendation. This is a huge opportunity to urge the Task Force to change its recommendation. We need a massive number of public comments to convince the
USPSTF to make the right decision and save lives.
You can read the draft recommendations and submit public comment here:
If your organization is not a member of NVHR, please join today. Membership is free and we will be sending information, updates and Alerts throughout the public comment period. To join, go to www.nvhr.org and click “Join NVHR.”
The NVHR monthly all member policy conference call will focus solely on the USPSTF draft recommendations
o Date: Monday, December 3rd
o Time: 11:00 a.m. PST, 1:00 CST, 2 pm EST
o Dial 877-989-4822, pin: 777293.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to make a difference. We have made real progress over the past few years in fighting viral hepatitis and we can win this battle with your help!
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org