Examining hepatitis C virus testing practices in primary care clinics

J Viral Hepat. 2012 Feb;19(2):e163-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2011.01539.x. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Prior studies found that hepatitis C virus (HCV) risk assessment and testing in primary care clinics were suboptimal. We aimed to determine the actual HCV testing rate among patients with HCV risk factors and to identify variables predictive of testing. In order to do so, we performed a prospective cohort study among patients seen in four urban primary care clinics. At the initial visit, patients were given a questionnaire that listed HCV risk factors and they were instructed to check 'yes' or 'no' if they did or did not have a risk factor, respectively. Patients then handed this questionnaire to their physician during their initial visit. Among those who acknowledged having a HCV risk factor via the questionnaire, we determined the subsequent HCV testing rate and calculated adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) to identify variables predictive of testing. Of the 578 individuals who acknowledged having a HCV risk factor via the questionnaire, only 8% (46/578) were tested for HCV within 2 months of their initial visit. Among those tested, 11% (5/46) had a positive HCV antibody test result. The only variable predictive of HCV testing after adjusting for confounders was having a specific HCV risk factor identified and documented in the chart by physicians [16% (26/159) vs 5% (20/419); aOR 4.5, 95% CI 2.1-9.5]. In summary, 92% of patients with a HCV risk factor were not tested for HCV in the primary care setting, and efforts to improve such rates are clearly warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Services Research
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires