NYS Test4HepC Campaign to Promote Hepatitis C Screening During Pregnancy

NYS Test4HepC Campaign to Promote Hepatitis C Screening During Pregnancy

Universal hepatitis C screening among pregnant people was identified in the New York State Hepatitis C Elimination Plan as a priority for moving the state towards hepatitis C elimination by 2030.

Effective May 3, 2024, New York State’s hepatitis C testing legislation will require all health care providers attending a pregnant person to screen for hepatitis C during each pregnancy and document the result prominently in the medical record at or before the time of hospital admission for delivery.

Why screen for hepatitis C during pregnancy?

Most new hepatitis C infections occur among reproductive-aged adults 20-39 years of age. Over the past 20 years, hepatitis C among the US obstetric population rose 10-fold. Studies have linked hepatitis C infection during pregnancy with worse pregnancy outcomes, including poor fetal growth and pre-term labor. Approximately 6% of perinatally exposed infants will acquire hepatitis C infection1,2. Perinatally exposed infants should be screened with an HCV RNA test at 2-6 months. Identifying hepatitis C during pregnancy helps guide prenatal and postpartum care for the pregnant person and their newborn.

Most people with hepatitis C can be treated and cured with 8–12 weeks of oral therapy. Though treatment is not currently FDA-approved during pregnancy, studies are ongoing and treatment may be considered on an individual basis based on provider/patient discussions about risks and benefits.

An estimated 40% of people with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection, meaning they cannot benefit from curative treatment available3. One of the biggest barriers to testing is the stigma associated with injection drug use, the primary risk factor for hepatitis C.  Offering hepatitis C screening as part of routine prenatal care, helps to reduce stigma and facilitate linkage to care and treatment for those diagnosed with hepatitis C.

NYS Test4HepC campaign

New York State launched the Test4HepC campaign in January, 2024 to raise awareness about the importance of screening for hepatitis C screening during pregnancy. The campaign builds on the NY Cures Hep C campaign with a website and materials tailored specifically for pregnant people, their health care providers and caregivers of infants perinatally exposed to hepatitis C. Paid media with the tag line Protect your baby and yourself. Get tested for hepatitis C will be placed in physician’s offices and laundromats, interiors of buses, subways and bus shelters, and on social media. Educational print materials are available for order in English and Spanish through the NYS DOH.

In addition, the AIDS Institute’s Clinical Education Initiative (CEI) is offering a provider toolkit and tailored technical assistance to help prenatal care and maternity settings to implement hepatitis C screening during pregnancy. This toolkit features clinical guidance, resources, and best practices for providing affirming services for all pregnant people and their infants as well as a video by the NYSDOH Commissioner Dr. James McDonald on the new legislation. 

Campaign materials can be found on the NYSDOH Hepatitis C Website:  www.health.ny.gov/Test4HepC.

For more information about the campaign or to request technical assistance around screening for hepatitis C during pregnancy, email: hepatabc@health.ny.gov.   

This is a guest blog collaboration from the NYSDOH Bureau of Hepatitis Health Care and Epidemiology and the HCV Dashboard Team.

[1] PH Chen, L Johnson, BN Limketkai,  et al. Trends in the Prevalence of Hepatitis C Infection During Pregnancy and Maternal-Infant Outcomes in the US, 1998 to 2018 JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(7):e2324770. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.24770


[2] B Arditi, et al. Deliveries Among Patients With Maternal Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States, 2000–2019

Obstet Gynecol 2023;141:828–36 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36897136/

[3] CDC Fact Sheet. Hepatitis C: By the Numbers https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/factsheets/Hepatitis-c-by-the-numbers.pdf

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