Widespread HCV screening in Baby Boomers: Is it worth it?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, amongst other health agencies, supports widespread hepatitis C screening of Americans born from 1945 to 1965, but a new study calls this practice into question, according to a report by The Bellingham Herald.

Baby Boomers account for the majority of the approximately 2.7 million people thought to have hepatitis C in the United States, according to the report. This is due to unsafe practices common during their youth.

With the advent of new drugs, such as Gilead Sciences' Sovaldi, HCV treatment has an unprecedented success rate. These drugs, albeit expensive, are more successful and come with fewer side effects than their predecessors.

The study questioning the push for extensive screening, published in the British Medical Journal, considers whether this practice would in fact be more harmful than helpful. The long-term effects of these new drugs have yet to be studied and many people with HCV never become symptomatic.

The study authors suggest more targeted screening and use of HCV therapies, rather than a blanket approach. But, they agree more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and downsides of new drug treatments.

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