State Lawmakers Consider Requiring Providers to Offer Some Hepatitis C Screenings

Mar 14, 2014

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Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill on Friday that would require primary health care providers to offer baby boomers a screening test for Hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease. The proposed legislation would affect patients born between 1945 and 1965.

The U.S. CDC has been campaigning for baby boomers to get screened for Hepatitis C.
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for such testing in 2012, with a campaign aimed at the age bracket. Baby boomers accounted for 75 percent of the estimated 3.2 million Americans infected with Hepatitis C, according to the CDC.

AARP of Connecticut is supporting the legislation, saying testing is crucial because many people infected with the disease show no symptoms.

According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, blood tests either look for antibodies or a virus, and are not 100 percent accurate. Thus the screenings sometimes require a combination of tests.

Critics of the bill have suggested it's likely less expensive to first conduct a liver function test, which measures the levels of enzymes and other substances in the liver. Further screenings, such as an ultrasound or a biopsy, could be conducted if abnormalities are found.

According to Department of Public Health records, there were 13,087 total cases of Hepatitis C in the state, past or present, by 2012. There were 177 cases of acute Hepatitis C in the state in 2011. 

The Public Health Committee will hold a hearing on the bill on Friday.

This report includes information from The Associated Press.