Created in 1984, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF or Task Force) is an independent group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine that works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, or preventive medications.
Recently, the USPSTF issued draft recommendations on hepatitis B (HBV) screening for non-pregnant adolescents and adults. Presently, only pregnant women have an HBV screening recommendation from the USPSTF at an “A” grade. The USPSTF issued a draft “B” grade for HBV screening of populations most vulnerable to HBV infection, defined as:
- Foreign-born individuals from countries with a 2% or higher HBV prevalence rate
- Persons living with HIV (PLWH)
- Persons who inject drugs (PWID)
- Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM)
- Household contacts or sexual partners of persons living with HBV.
A “B” grade recommendation can have a substantial impact on identification of people living with HBV who do not know their status, bringing more people into care and treatment and decreasing new HBV infections. It will also have implications on coverage of HBV screening as USPSTF grades guide reimbursement requirements for private insurers, Medicare and Medicaid. This will also allow for HBV screenings to be included in the list of preventive services of the Affordable Care Act.
To read the draft recommendations go to: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/draftrec2.htm.
A fact sheet that explains the draft recommendations in plain language is available here.
We encourage you to submit comments. Comments must be submitted by March 10, 2014.