The short-term benefits of screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) are limited by individuals’ lack of health insurance. Publishing their findings in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, researchers analyzed data on 38,025 people who were tested for hep C as a part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2001 and 2010.

In the event of a positive test result, participants in the study were sent a letter informing them they had hep C, along with advice to seek a medical consultation. They were also given information about the transmission of hep C and the potential complications of living with the virus. Six months later, researchers contacted the participants again to see what sort of action they had taken in response to their positive test result.

A total of 502 of the participants tested positive for hep C, with 205 of them participating in the six-month follow-up interview. Half of these individuals had not known they were HCV positive before undergoing the test. A total of 166 of those interviewed (81 percent) had sought further medical evaluation by that time.

After adjusting for various factors, the researchers calculated that the only significant barrier to seeking further hep C-related care was lacking health insurance. Those who were uninsured were 2.76 times less likely to seek further care than those who were insured.

To read the study abstract, click here.