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Hepatitis C virus broken apart

Expanding hepatitis C testing to all adults is cost-effective and improves health, new study shows

Even adults who are not considered "high-risk" should be tested to reduce deaths and improve cure rates, new Stanford Health Policy research suggests.

New cases of hepatitis C have tripled over the last five years -- and not just among older Americans of the Baby Boomer generation. Young adults are increasingly falling victim to the infectious disease that mainly attacks the liver.

Now, a new study co-authored by Joshua Salomon, PhD, a Stanford health policy specialist, is recommending that all adults in the U.S. be screened for HCV, as a cost-effective way to improve health outcomes.

He explains in a Stanford Health Policy article:

Testing all adults would lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment for many people, which would help to prevent cirrhosis and other long-term complications... Overall, when you consider both the better health outcomes and the reduced costs of managing long-term liver disease, expanded testing offers excellent value for money.

The study, which appears in Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that screening all adults for HCV would identify more than 250,000 additional people who are carrying the virus and increase cure rates from 41 to 61 percent -- as well as reduce death rates for HCV-attributable diseases by more than 20 percent.

The researchers recommend that their findings inform future testing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.

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