The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that at least 3.5 million Americans currently have HCV infection, and rates of new infections have increased nearly 2.9-fold between 2010 and 2015. The latest data from 2015 indicate that an estimated 33,900 new infections occurred that year alone. With a growing consensus in the global health community that Hepatitis C (HCV) could be eliminated, a new report from the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University highlights a key missing element needed to achieving complete elimination-adequate surveillance and monitoring-and explains how modest investments would improve lives and save money.
The report, “Monitoring the Hepatitis C Epidemic in the United States: What Tools are Needed to Achieve Elimination?” explains that effective medicines are available to treat and often cure hepatitis C, but information is lacking to know where to “deploy critical public health and health care resources to prevent new infections, screen and diagnose cases, and treat all of those who are infected with the virus.” The report identifies five critical actions that should be priorities for monitoring HCV:
- Expand and standardize reporting to the CDC,
- Utilize electronic medical records to collect data on HCV cases and the cure cascade,
- Fund epidemiologic research using clinical data sets,
- Integrate improved monitoring of HCV with responses to the opioid epidemic, and
- Establish and monitor HCV elimination plans across major US health systems.
Read the full report to learn more.