Hepatitis C is the most common bloodborne infection in the United States and is a leading cause of liver-related morbidity and mortality. An estimated 1,700 infants were born with HCV infection (acquired in utero) each year between 2011 and 2014. Yet a recent Quest Diagnostics Health Trends study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology in June 2022 found that less than 41% of pregnant people were screened for HCV. Furthermore individuals on Medicaid were screened at 25-35% lower than those with commercial insurance.

To close this gap in maternal healthcare Quest Diagnostics is launching a new obstetrics laboratory test panel designed to enable physicians to screen all eligible pregnant people easily and reliably for hepatitis C with other laboratory tests typically ordered during early pregnancy. Obstetric panels are typically performed early in pregnancy and include guideline-recommended tests, such as complete blood count (CBC), blood typing, hepatitis B, syphilis, and rubella, to help guide clinical decisions affecting the pregnancy and mother’s health.

Damian “Pat” Alagia, MD, Senior Medical Director, Women’s Health, Quest Diagnostics explains: “Our Health Trends research revealed that despite guidelines recommending HCV screening in pregnancy, many people are not receiving the testing they need. Individuals in underserved communities are most likely to experience this gap in care. Screening for HIV, HBV and syphilis is already standard in obstetric panels, and it is no coincidence that screening rates for these diseases during pregnancy are more than double the current rate as for HCV. By adding HCV screening to our obstetrics panel, physicians will be more likely to deliver guideline-based care that reduces HCV infection during pregnancy and fosters a positive outcome for the patient and their newborn.”

Harvey W. Kaufman, MD, Senior Medical Director, Head of the Health Trends Research Program for Quest Diagnostics adds: “Our new test service is a prime example of how Quest Diagnostics illuminates care gaps from its uniquely large laboratory dataset and then creates solutions to improve patient care and public health.”

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