Kudus to James Galbraith, MD, a professor at University of Alabama,
Birmingham (UAB). He designed and conducted an HCV free screening study of baby boomers at UAB’s Emergency Department (ED). This is a 51-bed, Level 1 trauma center. Infectious Disease online reports (5/14):
In a six-week period during 2013, the UAB ED had 2,363 unique visits by baby boomers. Of the 1,721 individuals who completed questionnaires, 74.8% were unaware of their HCV status and 90.8% agreed to testing. Of the patients who underwent testing, 12% had a positive anti-HCV test and 72.5% of those also tested positive for HCV RNA.
The offer of free HCV testing was embraced by most of the boomers and test results were given before they were discharged from the ER! The team followed up with information for patients who received bad news.
Dr.J. Gregory Fritz, dean of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, commented on the study:
“You have an enormous reservoir of disease out there…This is a quick study and an early study, and it is consistent with my own experience, but it really does need to be reproduced in a much larger population over a much longer period of time.”
Dr. Galbraith can feel very proud that he has probably saved many lives by being curious and caring enough to put energy into this valuable project. Who knew that UAB Hospital is considered a “great” American hospital by peers?
Boomers can get one free test under the Affordable Care Act. And wouldn’t it be great if veteran service organizations sponsored testing days across the country for all veteran family members who would like the test?
I’m going to email this post to a few regional hospitals and the VVA in my area. Maybe they too will get motivated to test for HCV and treat those afflicted.
To see where the 18.4% veteran HCV prevalence figure comes from, please revisit this post for information and links to Lisa Backus, M.D. study (JAMA 9/9/13) entitled Hepatitis C Virus Screening and Prevalence Among US Veterans in Department of Veterans Affairs Care.