Hepatitis C

The Task Force recommends against universal birth cohort (1945-75) screening for HCV.

Hepatologists (liver specialists) recommend screening for hepatitis C in those born between 1945 and 1975 as well as anyone with risk factors. Screening ‘baby boomers’ is recommended because ~70% of cases of hepatitis C occur in people born in this era. Hepatitis C leads to liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. The Task Force recommended screening only for people known to be at high risk. Unfortunately, risk factors are hard to identify and people may not acknowledge them.  With risk-based screening, over a third of people living with HCV go undiagnosed, with some patients progressing to late-stage disease and needing expensive care, like liver transplants. If hepatitis C is found before people have advanced liver disease, hepatitis C can be cured, completely eliminating the risk of liver failure and liver cancer.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US recommends screening all adults over the age of 18 for hepatitis C.

This can only perpetuate Canada’s low HCV diagnosis rates leading to the late diagnosis of liver cancer, decompensated cirrhosis and extra-hepatic illnesses.” — letter from Dr. Eric Yoshida, member of the national governing board of the Canadian Liver Foundation