Quest Diagnostics Partners with CDC to Improve Hepatitis C Public Health Research

Quest Diagnostics announces a collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve public health analysis of hepatitis C screening, diagnosis and treatment, based on analysis of the company's national hepatitis C virus diagnostic information.

The collaboration aims to enhance screening, diagnosis and medical intervention for the approximately 3.2 million Americans infected with hepatitis C, promoting favorable health outcomes. The organizations will primarily focus on individuals born during 1945 through 1965. Individuals in this "baby boomer" generation are five times more likely than other adults to be infected, and one-time testing, as recommended by the CDC in 2012, could prevent more than 120,000 deaths in this age group.

In June 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended one-time hepatitis C screening for all adults born between 1945 and 1965.

"Deaths from hepatitis C infection have nearly doubled over the past decade to now more than 15,000 a year.  Early detection and treatment of hepatitis C saves lives, but most people who are infected don't know it or are not being effectively treated," says Jay Wohlgemuth, MD, senior vice president of science and innovation for Quest Diagnostics. "Our collaboration with the CDC underscores the importance of using diagnostic information to derive useful insights enabling effective prevention, detection and management programs for diseases with a significant impact on public health."

Under an agreement, medical experts, scientists and health informatics experts from Quest Diagnostics and the CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis will share access to de-identified hepatitis C test results, in a HIPAA compliant manner, from the Quest Diagnostics Health Trends national clinical laboratory database, which represents every state and the District of Columbia. The de-identified data, with names and personally identifying information removed, will include results of screening and confirmatory diagnostic tests as well as genotyping and viral load tests used by clinicians to manage treatment. 

Data will be evaluated to identify and track epidemiological trends in hepatitis C virus infection, testing and treatment, and evaluate how those trends differ based on gender, age, geography and clinical management.  The organizations may jointly publish results of their research, such as in peer reviewed publications and scientific conferences.

"With 3 million Americans living with hepatitis C and up to 3 out of 4 who don't know they are infected, increased testing is critical to ensure that those who are infected receive life-saving care and treatment," says John W. Ward, MD, director of CDC's Division of Viral Hepatitis. "Because these individuals are at serious risk for liver cancer, disease and death, I am excited about this innovative collaboration with Quest Diagnostics and believe it will help improve our understanding of how people access hepatitis C testing and care across the nation."

"This collaboration is an important step forward to producing actionable insights to aid public and clinical disease detection and management of hepatitis C," says Rick Pesano, MD, PhD, medical director of infectious diseases. "Working with the CDC, Quest Diagnostics will lead the way for other providers to improve diagnosis and management of this disease, which in turn will help more people lead healthier lives."

Hepatitis C virus infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States. The disease can cause liver damage and cancer and is a leading cause of liver transplants. Hepatitis C often does not manifest symptoms for decades. Early diagnosis, through laboratory blood tests, and treatment can help prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer and death.

Quest Diagnostics provides comprehensive diagnostic information services for hepatitis C, including genotyping, risk stratifying and viral load testing, to aid the diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring of hepatitis C virus infection and disease.