As the nonprescription use of opioids has surged among young people in particular, health care providers are missing the opportunity to screen for hepatitis C virus (HCV) among youths with opioid use disorder.

Presenting their findings at the IDWeek conference in San Francisco, researchers analyzed the electronic medical records of 269,124 U.S. residents between the ages of 13 and 21 who attended one of 57 federally qualified health centers in 19 states between 2012 and 2017.

A total of 875 of these young people were diagnosed with opioid use disorder; of these, just 36 percent were tested for hep C. Of those who were tested, 11 percent tested positive for antibodies and 6.8 percent tested positive for antibodies and the presence of the virus, indicating a chronic infection.

A total of 6,812 (2.5 percent) of all the young people included in the analysis were tested for HCV. Of this group, 122 (1.8 percent) tested positive for the virus.

Factors associated with a greater likelihood of being tested for HCV included being African American, having any substance use disorder and being 19 to 21 years old (compared with being 13 to 15 years old).

To read a press release about the study, click here.