Comparison of current US risk strategy to screen for hepatitis C virus with a hypothetical targeted birth cohort strategy

Am J Public Health. 2012 Nov;102(11):e101-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2011.300488. Epub 2012 Jul 19.


Objectives: We compared the theoretical performance of a 1-time, birth cohort strategy with the currently recommended risk strategy for screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, which is undetected in an estimated 75% of 4 million affected people in the United States.

Methods: We applied current American Association for the Study of Liver Disease risk screening guidelines and a targeted birth cohort strategy to National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2003 to 2006 to estimate their performance in identifying HCV cases.

Results: Risk guidelines would recommend testing 25% of the US population aged 20 years or older and, if fully implemented, identify 82% of the projected HCV-exposed population. A targeted birth cohort (1946-1964) strategy would test 45% of the same population and identify 76% of the projected HCV population.

Conclusions: In this ideal-world simulation, birth year and risk screening had similar theoretical performances for predicting HCV infection. However, actual implementation of risk screening has not achieved its theoretical performance, and birth cohort screening might increase HCV testing rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Hepacivirus
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Alanine Transaminase