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.