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Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 Jun;108(6):981-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.50. Epub 2013 Mar 19.

Birth cohort screening for chronic hepatitis during colonoscopy appointments.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Scott & White Healthcare, Temple, Texas 76508, USA.



More than 70% of infections with hepatitis C viruses (HCV) occur among people born between 1945 and 1965 (baby boomers). The US Centers for Disease Control estimate that 70% of people with chronic hepatitis are not aware that they are infected with a virus. We performed a prospective trial to determine whether people born during this time period would accept testing for chronic viral infection (hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HCV) during routine colonoscopies. We also evaluated acceptance and efficacy of screening for immunity to hepatitis A (HAV) and B viruses.


During a 3-month period, 500 people, 50-65 years old, who received a colonoscopy were offered a test for viral hepatitis. Patients answered questions about vaccination, exposure, diagnoses, and risk factors related to viral hepatitis, and blood samples were collected. Patients who tested positive for antibodies to HCV or hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) were contacted for further testing and possible therapy. Patients without immunity to HAV or HBV were offered vaccinations.


Three hundred and seventy-six people (158 men) agreed to be tested. Four were found to have antibodies against HCV and one had detectable virus. None of the patients tested positive for HBsAg; 136 (36%) had at least one risk factor for chronic hepatitis and 31 (8%) had multiple risk factors. Three hundred and fifteen patients (84%) were not immune to HAV, HBV, or both viruses.


It is possible to screen patients for viral hepatitis during visits for routine colonoscopy. This approach can identify individuals with undiagnosed chronic HBV and HCV infections who could benefit from education, vaccination, or therapy.

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