May 17, 2016 – Hep C Screening


Anchor lead: Should everyone who comes to an emergency department be screened for hepatitis C? Elizabeth Tracey reports

If you’re a baby boomer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you be screened for hepatitis C, a viral infection that can cause liver failure.  Now a Johns Hopkins study led by Thomas Quinn, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, suggests that may not be enough.

Quinn:  We screened close to five thousand people coming to the Johns Hopkins emergency department over an eight week period. And we found that close to 14% of the individuals coming in were infected with hepatitis C virus.  Unfortunately approximately a third did not know they were infected.  :19

Quinn says those who don’t know they are infected are called ‘undocumented’ infections.

Quinn: What we found out is that a quarter of the undocumented hepatitis C infections were in young individuals between 15 and 25 years of age.   :13

Quinn says these infections are largely due to heroin use, which many people switch to after becoming addicted to prescription opioids, with the number of cases suggesting that screening should be expanded.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.