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Testing for HCV: the first step in preventing disease transmission and improving health outcomes for HCV-infected individuals

John W Ward

Corresponding author name: John W Ward
Corresponding author e-mail: jww4@cdc.gov

Citation: Antiviral Therapy 2012; 17:1397-1401
doi: 10.3851/IMP2477

Date accepted: 08 June 2012
Date published online: 07 December 2012

Abstract

In the US, application of antibody-based and nucleic acid testing for HCV has dramatically reduced HCV transmissions over the past two decades. In addition to testing donors of blood, tissue and organs to reduce the risk of transfusion/transplantation-associated HCV, testing can also motivate individuals to adopt safer behaviours. HCV testing, when accompanied by appropriate care and treatment, can reduce the extent of morbidity and mortality that often accompanies chronic HCV infection. Options for HCV treatment have recently been expanded and improved with the availability of more effective, anti-HCV drugs; furthermore, the remarkable results of clinical trials of these drugs suggest that safe, all-oral therapies requiring relatively short duration are on the immediate horizon. These advances have prompted new US initiatives to recommend HCV testing to the wider community (including those populations with a high prevalence of hepatitis C) and promote linkage to treatment for those found to be HCV-infected. Crucial to the success of these initiatives are the development of tests capable of identifying active infection, recent infection, or both, and the implementation of testing strategies that facilitate broad access to HCV testing linked to care and treatment.

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