High priority for hepatitis C screening in safety net hospitals: Results from a prospective cohort of 4582 hospitalized baby boomers

Hepatology. 2015 Nov;62(5):1388-95. doi: 10.1002/hep.28018. Epub 2015 Aug 29.


Low-income populations are disproportionately affected by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Thus, implementing baby boomer screening (born 1945-1965) for HCV may be a high priority for safety net hospitals. We report the prevalence and predictors of HCV infection and advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis based on the Fibrosis-4 score plus imaging for a baby boomer cohort admitted to a safety net hospital over a 21-month interval with >9 months of follow-up. Anti-HCV antibody testing was performed for 4582, or 90%, of all never-screened patients, of whom 312 (6.7%) tested positive. Adjusted odds ratios of testing anti-HCV-positive were 2.66 for men versus women (P<0.001), 1.25 for uninsured versus insured (P=0.06), 0.70 for Hispanics versus non-Hispanic whites (P=0.005), and 0.93 per year of age (P<0.001). Among 287 patients tested for HCV RNA (91% of all anti-HCV-positive cases), 175 (61%) were viremic (3.8% overall prevalence in cohort), which was 5% less likely per year of age (P<0.03). Noninvasive staging of 148 (84.6%) chronic HCV patients identified advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis in 50 (33.8%), with higher adjusted odds ratios of 3.21 for Hispanics versus non-Hispanic whites/Asians (P=0.02) and 1.18 per year of age (P=0.001). Other factors associated with significantly higher adjusted odds ratios of advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis were alcohol abuse/dependence, obesity, and being uninsured.

Conclusion: In this low-income, hospitalized cohort, 4% of 4582 screened baby boomers were diagnosed with chronic HCV, nearly twice the rate in the community; one-third had noninvasive testing that indicated advanced fibrosis or cirrhosis, which was significantly more likely for Hispanics, those of older age, those with obesity, those with alcohol abuse/dependence, and those who lacked insurance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis*
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Viral / blood


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral