The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is having a busy summer, and they’d like you to join them.
At the end of August, the task force issued a request for public comment on a draft recommendation statement for hepatitis C (HCV) screening among adolescents and adults.1 Noting that HCV is the most common chronic bloodborne pathogen in the United States, and a leading cause of complications from chronic liver disease, the task force concludes that “screening for HCV infection in adults ages 18 to 79 years has substantial net benefit.”
The task force is specific about how such testing should be performed:
Screening with anti-HCV antibody testing followed by polymerase chain reaction testing for HCV RNA is accurate for identifying patients with chronic HCV infection. Currently, diagnostic evaluations are often performed with various noninvasive tests as possible alternatives to liver biopsy for diagnosing fibrosis stage or cirrhosis to reduce overall harms in persons who screen positive.
According to the recommendation statement, most adults only need to be screened once. However, “persons with continued risk for HCV infection (eg, persons who inject drugs) should be screened periodically.” The task force says there is limited information about the specific screening interval that should occur for persons who continue to be at risk for new HCV infection.
Somewhat less happily, at the beginning of September the task force issued a second draft recommendation statement about screening for cognitive impairment—including both dementia and mild cognitive impairment—among older adults.2 While acknowledging that cognitive impairment affects several million people in the United States, and that its prevalence increases with age, the task force concludes that “evidence is lacking, and the balance of benefits and harms of screening for cognitive impairment cannot be determined.”
Individuals wanting to comment on the USPSTF recommendations can do so by visiting the group’s website at www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org. Consider it just a little light reading to close out the summer.
- Hepatitis C virus infection in adolescents and adults: screening [draft recommendation statement, online]. Rockville, Md: US Preventive Services Task Force, 2019. Available at: www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/page/document/draft-recommendation-statement/hepatitis-c-screening. Accessed September 10, 2019.
- Cognitive impairment in older adults: screening [draft recommendation statement, online]. Rockville, Md: Preventive Services Task Force, 2019. Available at: www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/page/document/draft-recommendation-statement/cognitive-impairment-in-older-adults-screening. Accessed September 10, 2019.
Chief Editor, CLP