Trending: Hepatitis C – potential increase in HCV testing.

New evidence suggests a high rate of hepatitis C infection amongst baby boomers. Commonly viewed as a drug addict’s disease, new data suggests the largest group of Canadians carrying the virus consists of adults born between 1945 and 1975.

Last year, the US CDC recommended that all adults born between 1945 and 1965 be tested for hepatitis C, after observing high infection rates among boomers.

This testing guideline has gained support from the Canadian Liver Foundation, which recommended extending the birth year to 1975, “due to the prevalence of hepatitis C in the immigrant population,” reported Dr. Morris Sherman, chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation and liver specialist at Toronto General Hospital.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) estimates that 242 500 Canadians are infected with the virus, however some experts suggest that more than 400 000 Canadians carry the virus based on data from the US and from British Columbia, a leader in HCV surveillance.  In BC, it is estimated that one in 33 boomers has been infected with HCV. It is believed that infection in the boomer population is primarily due to experimentation with recreational drug use, with injection drug use thought to be quite common in the 60s and 70s.

HCV testing is currently recommended for high risk groups, including immigrants and active injection drug users.  National health agencies have yet to recommend expanded testing guidelines and the Public Health Agency of Canada currently maintains, “in the general population, the risk of contracting hep C is low.”

Phoenix Airmid Biomedical can help your lab prepare for the potential increase in HCV testing.  Phoenix Airmid Biomedical is the exclusive Canadian distributor of the INNO-LIA HCV Score (manufactured by Fujirebio).  This confirmatory test is Health Canada approved for the diagnosis of HCV and detects the presence of antibodies to all major HCV genotypes, with 100% sensitivity and 94.5% specificity.  Contact Phoenix Airmid Biomedical at 1-866-718-0515 for more information on the INNO-LIA HCV Score assay.

1. A Canadian screening program for hepatitis C: Is now the time? CMAJ October 15, 2013 185:13251328; published ahead of print September 30, 2013,

2. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/specialists-warn-of-a-looming-hepatitis-c-crisis/article14432504/

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