Birth-cohort HCV screening target in Thailand to expand and optimize the national HCV screening for public health policy.
Wasitthankasem R., Vichaiwattana P., Siripon N., Posuwan N., Auphimai C., Klinfueng S., Thanetkongtong N., Vuthitanachot V., Saiyatha S., Thongmai C., Sochoo S., Sukthong P., Poovorawan K., Tangkijvanich P., Poovorawan Y.
The World Health Organization aims to eliminate HCV infection worldwide by 2030. A targeted HCV screening policy is currently unavailable in Thailand, but a decrease in HCV infection has been observed in the country. However, a previous study showed that there was a higher HCV seroprevalence in adults aged between 30-64 years in the Phetchabun province (15.5%), as compared to the Khon Kaen province (3.6%). It was hypothesized that young adults had a lower rate of HCV seropositivity; this was determined by the age distribution of anti-HCV in Phetchabun and with the identification of high seroprevalence birth cohorts. In order to compare the provincial findings to the national level, anti-HCV birth cohorts were further analyzed in Khon Kaen (averaged-HCV prevalence) as well as the Thai data set that was derived from the previous literature. Thai individuals aged between 18-30 years residing in Phetchabun (n = 1453) were recruited, tested for the presence of anti-HCV antibodies and viral RNA and completed questionnaires that were designed to identify HCV exposure risks. Data was collected and compiled from previously published articles (n = 1667, age 30-64 years). The HCV seropositivity in Phetchabun by age group (18-64, at 5-year intervals) and the birth year were tabulated parallel to the Khon Kaen data set (n = 2233) in conjunction with data from the national survey 2014 (n = 5964) representing the Thai population. Factors such as age, male gender, agricultural work, blood transfusion, intravenous drug use and having a tattoo were associated with anti-HCV positivity in Phetchabun. HCV seroprevalence was less than 4.0% (ranging from 0.0-3.5%) from the age of 18-34 years. A dramatic increase of 15.1% was found in adults aged greater than or equal to 35 years, whereas, the age group in Khon Kaen and the national population with increasing prevalence of HCV were older (≥40). The HCV seropositivity cohort accumulated for those born between 1951-1982 accounted for 71.4-100.0% of all seropositive individuals. Subsequently, new cases occurred sporadically. This finding provides evidence that there is a disproportionately high HCV seroprevalence among people born before 1983 (or aged ≥35). This cohort should be targeted for priority screening as part of the national HCV screening policy. Incorporating this birth cohort with other risk factors could improve HCV diagnostic rates, resulting in overall improvements in parallel to those given by novel antiviral treatment.