Increased Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Detection in Women of Childbearing Age and Potential Risk for Vertical Transmission — United States and Kentucky, 2011–2014

The national increases in HCV detection among women of childbearing age, HCV testing among infants, and the proportion of infants born to HCV-infected mothers suggest increased risk for mother-to-child transmission of HCV. This risk might be higher in certain areas of the United States, as illustrated by the findings in this report for Kentucky, which might be related to increasing illicit injection drug use (5). KDPH surveillance data for pregnant women are also consistent with demographic patterns of HCV incidence overall in Kentucky and nationally (6).

Many opportunities to improve identification and monitoring of HCV infection among women of childbearing age and infants exist. CDC recommends HCV testing for persons with a history of injection drug use and others at risk, including persons infected with HIV and persons with recognized exposures (e.g., health care workers after needle sticks or mucosal exposure to HCV-positive blood) (1,7). It is important that providers assess women of childbearing age, particularly pregnant women, for HCV risk and test accordingly. CDC also recommends HCV testing of children born to HCV-infected women (1,7). Several organizations have published guidelines on HCV testing of children,** but harmonization is needed to ensure that all women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy and all infants born to HCV-infected women are appropriately tested and linked to care if they are infected.

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