Awareness of infection, knowledge of hepatitis C, and medical follow-up among individuals testing positive for hepatitis C: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2008

Hepatology, 05/08/2012

The findings suggest that more intensive efforts are needed to identify and test persons at risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

Methods

  • The authors analyzed data from persons who tested positive for past or current HCV infection during participation in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 through 2008.
  • A follow-up survey was conducted 6 months after examination to determine :
    • How many participants testing positive for HCV infection were aware of their HCV status before being notified by NHANES
    • What actions participants took after becoming aware of their first positive test
    • Participants' knowledge about hepatitis C.
  • Of 30,140 participants tested, 393 (1.3%) had evidence of past or current HCV infection and 170 (43%) could be contacted during the follow-up survey and interviewed.

Results

  • Only 49.7% were aware of their positive HCV infection status before being notified by NHANES, and only 3.7% of these respondents reported that they had first been tested for HCV because they or their doctor thought they were at risk for infection.
  • Overall, 85.4% had heard of hepatitis C; correct responses to questions about hepatitis C were higher among persons 40-59 years of age, white non-Hispanics, and respondents who saw a physician after their first positive HCV test.
  • Eighty percent of respondents indicated they had seen a doctor about their first positive HCV test result.

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