Hepatitis C Virus’s widespread screening may not be completely beneficial: reveals research

Hepatitis C, caused by Hepatitis C virus is considered as a serious health threat worldwide. To prevent untimely deaths caused by this liver disease and also in order to provide better medications to the existing patients, public health officials keep recommending the widespread screening for Hepatitis C.

But in a recent paper that got published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal, a group of scientists contradicted this present notion of screening, reports SFGATE.

The scientists said there has been little evidence all this while that this screening results in better rescue. Apart from that, there are also possibilities that this screening and treatment may cause unnecessary harm to millions of carriers who in spite of testing positive, manage to live healthy without any ill effects.


The question is whether these aggressive screening policies are justified and whether they would result in more benefit than harm,” said Dr. John Ioannidis, a Stanford epidemiologist and an author of the paper. “We know very little about the potential harms of these drugs, especially in the long-term. And we don’t know how they will translate into long-term benefits.”

In 2012, with the availability of new treatments, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended screening for around 2.7 million people who are born during 1945-65 as about three-quarters of patients fall into that age group. The symptoms of Hepatitis C sometimes appear after two or more decades; a reason that Baby Boomers, who were infected in the ’60s or ’70s, may experience the effects now.

Presently, it is possible to completely cure about 90 percent of hepatitis C inflammations with the new drugs, even though the treatments turn out to be quite expensive. US Preventative Services Task Force and the World Health Organization also endorse widespread screening to prevent end stage liver disease across the globe.


But Ronald Koretz, emeritus professor at UCLA School of Medicine and colleagues contradict stating that most hepatitis C patients “will not develop end stage liver disease and will, therefore, be unnecessarily treated.” Also, scientist questioned the validity of using surrogate markers in the drug trials.

“Physicians should resist screening until we have strong evidence that antiviral therapy is clinically effective, and the benefits outweigh the harms,” concluded the researchers.


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  • I don’t think the researchers are using good judgment. (1) Hepatitis C is contagious, and curing one person of it prevents its spread (2) there are practically zero side effects from Harvoni (3) liver failure and liver cancer, even if they happen in the minority of cases, are very severe outcomes. (4) to call being cured of the virus a “surrogate” for an outcome is to imply that infection with Hepatitis C might not actually be harmful.
    It’s as if they just wanted to make some news here. There’s not pro’s and con’s involved, except the financial expense. There’s simply no downside to detecting and curing the virus.

  • They said there were practically zero side effects from Sovaldi too. While I don’t disagree with Karl’s general sentiment, I do strongly agree with one aspect of this article: Treatment with these medicines is in very early days and we do not have the data to make statements as in “Harvoni has practically zero side effects” – I am alive today only because someone was smart enough to encourage me to stop taking Sovaldi, despite having paid 180,000.00 USD for the privilege of that drug (not including the Ribavirin, Procrit, Neupogen and other specialty medicines required in the course of “treatment”). I couldn’t finish the course of six months (I’m not genotype 1a) and recent studies are showing up to 400% more abandonment of treatment despite the cost for the 3 month protocol that most people are on. These drugs can be brutal – and I for one would not recommend anyone rush out and get treated if they are not sick. The danger is in the spread. The real solution? Don’t promote screening without a skilled level of discourse and medical counsel. This way, the patient has the facts and is able to make decisions that best affect them. I am forever disabled because of these “safe” drugs. Oh, I don’t have HCV anymore, but I have no life, no money, and am on the brink of losing my home after a very successful and productive career PRIOR to treatment. So get screened – know the truth – but to believe anyone ever has a sure cure for anything and that it won’t harm you and practically zero side effects and that drug isn’t even a full year out of clinical trials – think really, really, really carefully before you make a decision that could leave you in a much worse situation both health-wise and economically. THanks for reading. GOod luck.