Dramatic increases in hepatitis C, CDC now recommends hepatitis C testing for all adults
Hepatitis C is increasing dramatically in the United States, particularly among younger adults, and 4 in 10 people don’t even know they have it. Hepatitis C is usually spread through blood, often from injection drug use. Less commonly, hepatitis C is spread through sex or from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy or childbirth. An acute infection develops when someone is first infected. Some people clear the virus, but most people with acute hepatitis C will develop a long-term (chronic) infection. Left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage, liver cancer, and even death. But hepatitis C is curable. The first step to being cured is getting a hepatitis C blood test. CDC now recommends testing:
- Every adult at least once
- Pregnant women during every pregnancy
- Everyone with ongoing risk factors regularly
New Reports of Chronic Hepatitis C High in Multiple Generations
Who Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C?
Multiple generations are at riskfor hepatitis C.
- The percent of newly reported chronic infections in 2018 was equal among Baby Boomers (born 1945–1965) and Millennials (born 1981–1996), both around 36%, while Generation X (born 1966–1980) made up 23%.
- Increasing rates of acute hepatitis C among people of reproductive age are putting even younger generations at risk.
Health care Providers Can:
- Test every adult once and pregnant women during every pregnancy.
- Test everyone with risk factors; test regularly if risk continues.
- Provide hepatitis C care and cure or refer to a specialist.
Health Departments Can:
- Implement screening recommendations.
- Monitor and report the local burden of hepatitis C.
- Support comprehensive syringe services programs to increase access to hepatitis C testing.
People Who Inject Drugs Can:
- Seek treatment for substance use disorders (SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP).
- Use new syringes and equipment with every injection.
- Get tested for hepatitis C regularly.
People With Hepatitis C Can:
- Get treated. Get cured.
- Avoid alcohol and adopt other health behaviors that support liver health.
- Get tested at least once and learn how to prevent hepatitis C.
- CDC now recommends one-time screening of all adults 18 years and older and screening all pregnant women during every pregnancy.
- People with risk factors, including people who inject drugs, should be tested regularly.
- All people with hepatitis C should be provided access to care and treatment.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
Publication date: April, 2020