SET-NET – Associated Research Activities

African American doctor and pregnant woman talking

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes liver disease and can be transmitted from a person who is pregnant to their infant during pregnancy or at the time of delivery. HCV infection in younger adults (20-39 years) has quadrupled over the past decade in the United States, in parallel with increases in injection drug use associated with the opioid crisis.

NCBDDD, in collaboration with the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis (DVH), has funded two research projects to investigate the impact of certain health threats during pregnancy. These studies will look at the impact of HCV infections and associated prevention and treatment strategies on pregnant people and their infants.

Both of these projects will extend our understanding of infections during pregnancy, beyond what we can learn from the SET-NET surveillance alone.

University of Florida / Johns Hopkins University

The University of Florida, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University, is conducting a 2-year study:

  • First, this project will assess the impact of the universal screening recommendations for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection during pregnancy. The study will evaluate the frequency of and factors that determine
    • HCV testing among pregnant persons,
    • HCV treatment among HCV-infected persons that was begun within 1 year after the end of pregnancy, and
    • HCV testing of infants born to people infected with HCV during pregnancy.
  • Second, this project will study the safety of doxycycline during pregnancy. Doxycycline is a common antibiotic used to treat various infections. The project will specifically assess
    • The risk of pregnancy loss following exposure to doxycycline, and
    • The risk of birth defects among infants who were born after prenatal exposure to doxycycline.

Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Building on previous formative work, this 1-year project aims to better understand and address barriers to care for HCV infection for pregnant people. To understand barriers and attitudes around HCV treatment during pregnancy, the team will conduct interviews with

  • Currently pregnant patients,
  • Postpartum patients, and
  • Obstetric providers who work in locations where pregnant persons/patients with HCV infection are being seen.

The outcomes of this project will be: 1) a broader understanding of patient and provider attitudes that might improve access to treatment for pregnant patients with HCV, and 2) a telehealth module designed to educate prenatal care providers about HCV infection in pregnancy, transmission of HCV infection to the baby, screening of perinatally exposed infants, and options for treatment of hepatitis C with direct-acting antivirals.