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Identifying newly acquired cases of hepatitis C using surveillance: a literature review.

Sacks-Davis R, VAN Gemert C, Bergeri I, Stoove M, Hellard M

  • Journal Epidemiology and infection

  • Published 01 Jun 2012

  • Volume 140

  • ISSUE 11

  • Pagination 1925-34

  • DOI 10.1017/S0950268812001033


Surveillance of newly acquired hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is crucial for understanding the epidemiology of HCV and informing public health practice. However, monitoring such infections via surveillance systems is challenging because they are commonly asymptomatic. A literature review was conducted to identify methodologies used by HCV surveillance systems to identify newly acquired infections; relevant surveillance systems in 15 countries were identified. Surveillance systems used three main strategies to identify newly acquired infections: (1) asking physicians to classify cases; (2) identifying symptomatic cases or cases with elevated alanine aminotransferases; and (3) identifying cases with documented evidence of anti-HCV antibody seroconversion within a specific time-frame. Case-ascertainment methods varied with greater completeness of data in enhanced compared to passive surveillance systems. Automated systems that extract and link testing data from multiple laboratory and clinic databases may provide an opportunity for collecting testing histories for individuals that is less resource intensive than enhanced surveillance.