Implementing Updated Recommendations on Hepatitis C Virus Screening: Translating Federal Guidance Into State Practice

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Abstract

Context:

Chronic viral hepatitis is a leading infectious cause of death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated recommendations for hepatitis C virus testing, including recommending that all individuals born between 1945 and 1965 be tested once. States' consistency with these national testing guidelines is unknown.

Objective:

To evaluate the extent to which state health departments have current hepatitis C virus testing recommendations listed on their Web sites, consistent with national guidelines.

Design:

The CDC guidelines were reviewed to identify the risk groups recommended for or against testing. State health department Web sites (50 US states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) were then systematically reviewed to classify whether, for each risk group, testing is recommended, not recommended, or with unclear recommendations.

Main Outcome Measure:

States' consistency with national recommendations for each risk group mentioned by the CDC.

Results:

Among the risk groups that the CDC currently recommends for testing, 50% of states updated their Web sites to include individuals born between 1945 and 1965. All states recommend testing current or former injection drug users, but only 58% recommended testing HIV-positive individuals. Among the risk groups for which the CDC has issued uncertain recommendations, states most frequently recommended testing individuals with tattoos or body piercing done with unsterile materials (46%) or with a history of multiple sex partners (31%).

Conclusions:

There is substantial variation in state Web sites' consistency with the CDC guidelines. The public health importance of risk factors is not associated with their inclusion in Web content. Improving the uptake of these recommendations and the manner in which they are conveyed to the public are critical to implementing the national viral hepatitis action plan, thereby increasing diagnoses and averting new infections.

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