Infection Control Today (10.16.12)
Published in the current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, a new study led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center provides analysis that will potentially lead to updates in screening practices and ultimately affect the control of hepatitis C infection globally. The study is the first to show that hepatitis C rapid and point-of-care tests with a quick-turnaround time are highly accurate and can be as reliable as the more conventional laboratory tests. According to senior author Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University and clinical researcher at the RI MUHC, it was determined that the point-of-care and rapid tests in oral fluids and blood were 97 to 99 percent accurate.
While conventional lab testing is available within developed countries, it is available only to those who visit community clinics or specialized hospitals and for those who have exhibited a risk profile and have warranted screening. Typically, results are available within a week, but may only be communicated to the patient during a follow-up visit, which may be as much as 1 to 3 months later. This may result in no follow-up and may also allow further transmission of the virus in the community. Accurate and reliable point-of-care and rapid tests offer an alternative to the standard tests. They can provide results within 30 minutes, and many do not require electricity.
Explains the study’s co-author Dr. Rosanna Peeling, professor and chair of diagnostics research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, more than 170 million individuals are infected with hepatitis C worldwide, but the effect of the disease is highest in Africa and Asia. “With promising oral drugs for Hepatitis C on the horizon, accurate and reliable point-of-care and rapid tests will allow millions of infected individuals worldwide to be diagnosed and treated.”