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Examining the Prevalence of HCV Infection Awareness in the US


Monique Foster, MD, MPH, EIS officer, Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explains why it’s important for individuals to know that they are infected with hepatitis C, although they may be asymptomatic.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“Hepatitis C virus is actually the number one cause of liver cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver transplantation, here in the US. What makes it difficult to treat and find is that most patients are unaware of their infection, because most infections are asymptomatic [and] even acute infections are asymptomatic.
We went about to figure out prevalence because we can’t get to treatment and good treatment outcomes if people don’t even know that they are sick. To help us with public health policies and to know where there are gaps in our resources, we went about figuring out how many people know about their infection and then how they proceed through their care cascade.
[Some of the information we wanted to gather includes the following]: if they know about their infection, do they go see their doctor? If they see their doctor, are they referred to a specialist, [such as] a gastrointestinal doctor or a hepatologist, or an infectious disease doctor? Once they see that specialist, if they do see the specialist, are they prescribed treatment, since there’s new and affective treatments out now for hepatitis C. If they are prescribed those treatments, do they complete [them] and reach sustained virologic response, so [are] they cured of their disease?
The first step of that process is determining how many people are aware of their infection.”
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