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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

CDC urges public to take on-line risk assessment for hepatitis infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created an on-line hepatitis risk assessment to help people determine whether they should be tested.

The “5 minute Hepatitis Risk Assessment” is part of the CDC’s effort to get people tested, particularly for hepatitis C. In 2012, CDC released new guidelines recommending that people born from 1945 to 1965 get tested for HCV. Rates of the virus in that age group are five times higher than other adults.

In the past, blood tests for HCV have not been included in routine physicals. As a result, millions of Americans are living with viral hepatitis but most do not know they are infected. People can live with chronic hepatitis for decades without having symptoms, the CDC notes.

The self-assessment asks questions about gender, year of birth, birth country, parent’s country of birth, and risk factors such as blood transfusions and drug injection. Concerning the latter, “sharing injection drug equipment, even if just one time or many years ago, can put a person at increased risk for viral hepatitis,” the CDC noted.

Regarding blood transfusion, questions arise because those who received clotting factor concentrate before 1987 or any blood products before HCV testing began in 1992 could be at risk for hepatitis.