Birth-cohort screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in primary care settings was cost-effective in the United States, according to Annals of Internal Medicine.

Approximately, 4.1 million Americans are antibody positive for HCV, and 75 percent of them are chronically infected. In 2005, Hepatitis C resulted in 7,000 to 13,000 deaths among the baby boomers.

In clinical trials of birth-cohort screening, HCV infected patients were given antiviral therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin (PEG-IFN+R), which has resulted in sustained viral response (SVR), meaning cure of HCV infection.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend antibody screening of persons with past behaviors, exposures, or health indicators associated with HCV infection. However, only 25 percent to 50 percent of chronic Hepatitis C patients are aware of their infection.

Under birth-cohort screening with standard treatment, at a cost of $2,874 per new case identified, around 60.4 million persons received antibody testing, 1,070,840 new cases were detected, 552,000 patients were treated and 229,000 patients were cured.

Related article: Hepatitis C Deaths Rising in U.S.: Study