Hep C: Baby Boomer Test Results

A relatively higher rate of hepatitis C infection in US adults considered to be part of the baby boom generation is starting to decline, researchers report. The statistical drop started the year after a CDC push for all US adults to get tested.

Baby boomers in the US have a higher prevalence of hepatitis C infection, a finding that led to a 2012 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) initiative to convince all people in the US born between 1945 and 1965 to get tested for the virus.

Though that convinced many of these boomers to get tested, their hep C positive results have not been as high as those tested before the CDC initiative, researchers report.

In an abstract presented May 19 at the Digestive Disease Week conference in Washington, DC, Carolyn Smyth, and colleagues in New York City and Chicago looked at the national data on testing from Medivo Lab Exchange Database.

They analyzed test results from near 5 million adults, of whom about 1.5 million were Baby Boom generation. One goal was to learn the relative prevalence of hep C infection in boomers and whether the CDC’s call to action had an impact on which of these boomers decided to get tested.

They found that in all adults tested, the HCV antibody positivity rate was 8.54% but it was 12.69% in baby boomers and 4.4% in those born either before or after the birth years considered to be the baby boom.

The data also showed that despite the higher prevalence of infection in those screened before the CDC’s testing campaign, the rate of positives in the baby boom group started to drop in subsequent years. It dropped by 21% the year after the CDC’s initiative and by 31% the year after that, the researchers wrote.

“HCV positivity rates are significantly higher among baby boomers than among non-boomers,” the team concluded, “but this rate is falling over time as more baby boomers are screened.” The researchers did not speculate on whether the numbers meant that those boomers who knew they were at high risk were more likely to have been tested before the CDC called for universal testing.

The team also looked at genotype data and found that genotype 1 hepatitis C was the most prevalent, seen in 76.38% of those with a positive test, followed by genotype 2 (10.92%) and genotype 3 (10.90%) with the remaining 1.8% having other genotypes of the virus.