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Dig Dis Sci. 2008 Apr;53(4):1093-9. Epub 2007 Oct 13.

A cost-identification analysis of screening and surveillance of hepatitis C infection in a prospective cohort of dialysis patients.

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Department of Medicine, GI Health Outcomes, Policy and Economics (HOPE) Research Program, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends screening and surveillance of dialysis patients for hepatitis C virus (HCV), but there are limited data on the real life performance of confirmatory tests. We performed a cost-identification analysis of CDC recommendations using a large database of dialysis subjects. Screening and surveillance were performed according to CDC guidelines: enzyme immunoassay (EIA) testing upon entry then biannual surveillance. All positive EIA tests were confirmed by either polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or radioimmunoblot assay (RIBA). A total of 12,563 patients were tested from 1997 to 2004. By EIA, the prevalence of HCV was 8.4% and annual incidence was 0.96%. The prevalence after confirmation by RIBA and PCR was 5.8% and 4.8%, respectively. The annual incidence of hepatitis C confirmed by RIBA and PCR was 0.13% and 0.084%, respectively. Using Medicare reimbursement, the cost to screen and confirm one case of hepatitis C by RIBA was $372 versus $503 by PCR. However, the cost to identify an incident infection increased to $30,594 by RIBA and $48,622 by PCR. In the sensitivity analysis, the cost of identifying incident HCV infection dropped by 50% when the surveillance interval was extended to 1 year or when seroconversion rates for EIA occurred at 2%. Due to high surveillance cost, further studies are necessary to determine optimal intervals and settings.

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