Hepatitis: Action Steps and Guidelines for Health Centers

The National Action Plan for the Prevention, Care, and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis details specific opportunities for health care providers, patients, and community leaders to help address viral hepatitis.

Screen

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) gives these recommendations regarding screening for hepatitis B and C:

  • Screen for hepatitis B virus infection in pregnant women at their first prenatal visit (Grade A)
  • Screen for hepatitis B virus infection in persons at high risk for infection (Grade B)
  • Screen for hepatitis C virus infection in persons at high risk for infection. Offer 1-time screening for hepatitis C virus infection to adults born between 1945 and 1965 (Grade B).

The only way to diagnose chronic viral hepatitis is blood testing. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C testing are covered preventive services under the Affordable Care Act. CDC provides these resources on hepatitis screening:

Understand Results

Viral hepatitis screening includes multiple tests and can be complex. These resources may help to identify which tests are most appropriate for your patient:

Vaccinate

Safe and effective vaccines are available for hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These vaccines are now routinely provided during the primary infant vaccination series and are recommended for many vulnerable adolescents and adults as well as anyone seeking protection. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines are covered preventive services under the Affordable Care Act.

Treat Disease

Effective treatments for hepatitis B and hepatitis C are available. These treatments have been shown to reduce the likelihood of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer. They consist of oral medications and in the case of hepatitis C, treatment can result in a virologic cure.

Manage Patients

There are many interventions providers can recommend for people with chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C to stay healthy and decrease the chance of disease progression. These include reducing alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, using care with over the counter medications, and receiving regular care including monitoring for liver cancer.