Canadian guidelines excludes baby boomers from HCV screening guidelines — 5 insights

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care's decision to exclude baby boomers from their new guidelines concerning hepatitis C virus screenings is creating a ruckus throughout the medical community, MedpageToday reports.

Here's what you should know:

1. Chair of the Guideline Work Group Roland Grad, MD, said, "Given the lack of direct evidence that mass screening is beneficial and that patients identified by screening will either never develop symptoms of hepatitis C, or will remain well for decades after infection, we have recommended against screening for HCV in adults who are not at elevated risk."

2. The group argues screening baby boomers for HCV would strain resources and make it harder for patients with clinically evident HCV to access care.

3. Canada has no organized HCV screening program. The Public Health Agency does recommend people at high risk for HCV undergo screenings, however.

4. The guideline group found no studies supporting mass HCV screening. The group argued the asymptomatic nature of early stage HCV would disqualify people from payer coverage for the disease anyway. To qualify for coverage in Canada the disease must be in an advanced fibrosis state.

5. The healthcare arena criticized the guidelines. Several Canadian HCV researchers were highly critical of it. Head of Gastroenterology at the University of British Columbia Hospital Eric Yoshida, MD, said the guidelines would cause the disease to continue and would increase the number of late-stage diagnoses.

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