Dr. Talal Joins CDC Advisory Group on HCV Guidelines
May 6, 2011
Andrew H. Talal, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, has been invited to join the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an external advisory group examining current testing guidelines for hepatitis C virus (HCV). Specifically, the group is analyzing whether to recommend HCV testing for people born between 1945 and 1965.
HCV can be transmitted a number of ways, including piercings/tattoos and certain methods of recreational drug use. Compared to other generations of adults, the "baby boomer" demographic includes a higher percentage of people who have experimented with both risk factors. Because hepatitis C infection is often asymptomatic for many years – showing itself only after life-threatening liver disease has developed – it is crucial to catch the virus early. "An estimated 5.2 million people in this country are infected with HCV, and approximately 3 million of them don't know it," says Dr. Talal. Adding an HCV test to the normal regimen offered by family physicians for people between the ages of 45 and 65 might bring to light a large number of unknown infections that would otherwise go undetected. The Advisory Group, comprising approximately 40 public health professionals, academicians, federal employees, and others, will analyze factors including effectiveness, feasibility, and cost, and present its recommendations to the CDC in Atlanta in August.