On Feb 10, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued draft recommendations on hepatitis B screening for non-pregnant adolescents and adults. Presently, only pregnant women have an HBV screening recommendation from the USPSTF at an “A” grade. The USPSTF issued a draft “B” grade for screening of populations most vulnerable to hepatitis B infection, defined as:
• Foreign-born individuals from countries with a 2% or higher hepatitis B prevalence rate
• Persons living with HIV (PLWH)
• Persons who inject drugs (PWID)
• Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM)
• Household contacts or sexual partners of persons living with hepatitis B
A “B” grade recommendation can have a substantial impact on identification of people living with hepatitis B who do not know their status, bringing more people into care and treatment and decreasing new hepatitis B infections. It will also have implications on coverage of hepatitis B screening as USPSTF grades guide reimbursement requirements for private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid. This will also allow for hepatitis B screenings to be included in the list of preventive services of the Affordable Care Act.
To read the draft recommendations go to:http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/draftrec2.htm. Additionally, individuals and healthcare providers are encouraged to submit comments by March 10, 2014.