for Health Care Providers
Screening Veterans for Hepatitis C Infection
Hepatitis C is an important public health issue in the veteran community. Since 1998, the Veterans Health Administration has initiated and implemented a comprehensive National Hepatitis C Program to screen veterans for HCV.
The following is a list of criteria that the VA uses to screen veterans for HCV infection:
- Patient desires to be tested, or
- One or more of the following risks are identified:
- Prior or current intravenous drug use
- Blood transfusion or organ transplantation prior to 1992
- Vietnam-era Veteran, defined by dates of service from 1964 through 1975
- Health care, emergency medical care, emergency medical and public safety workers after a needlestick injury or mucosal exposure to HCV-positive blood
- Tattoos or body-piercings obtained in non-regulated settings
- Intranasal drug users who have shared paraphernalia
- Past sexual exposure to an HCV infected partner or 20 or more lifetime sexual partners
- Current sexual partners of HCV-infected persons
- Persons with HIV infection
- History of hemophilia and received clotting factor concentrates prior to 1987
- History of unexplained liver disease or abnormal liver function test
- Persons who have alcoholic hepatitis or a diagnosis (DSM-IV) of alcohol abuse or dependence.
- Born to a mother with HCV
Clinicians are urged to utilize the Hepatitis C Virus Antibody Screening Flow Chart if there is a presence or history of any of the above criteria. To learn more about diagnostic tests for HCV, please see the provider education section on Laboratory Tests and HCV. Also see the HCV screening recommendations published by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.