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Hepatitis C Screening Among Medicaid Patients With Schizophrenia, 2002-2012.



Although people with schizophrenia are disproportionately affected by Hepatitis C virus (HCV) compared to the general population, HCV screening among US Medicaid recipients with schizophrenia has not been characterized. Following 1998 CDC recommendations for screening in high-risk populations, we estimated the proportion of Medicaid recipients with and without schizophrenia screened for HCV across states and over time. Examining patterns of screening will inform the current public health imperative to test all adults for HCV now that safer and more effective treatments are available.


Data are drawn from 1 353 424 Medicaid recipients aged 15-64 years with schizophrenia and frequency-matched controls from 2002 to 2012. Participants with known HCV infection one year prior and those dual-eligible for Medicare were excluded. Multivariable logistic regression estimated associations between predictor variables and HCV screening.


HCV screening was low (<4%) but increased over time. Individuals with schizophrenia consistently showed higher screening compared to controls across years and states. Several demographic and clinical characteristics predicted higher screening, especially comorbid HIV (OR = 6.5; 95% CI = 6.0-7.0). Outpatient medical care utilization increased screening by nearly double in 2002 (OR = 1.8; CI = 1.7-1.9) and almost triple in 2012 (OR = 2.7; CI = 2.6-2.9).


Low screening was a missed opportunity to improve HCV prevention efforts and reduce liver-related mortality among people with schizophrenia. Greater COVID-19 disease severity in HCV patients and the availability of effective HCV treatments increase the urgency to improve HCV screening. Eliminating Medicaid restrictions and expanding statewide HIV policies to include HCV would have multiple public health benefits, particularly for people with schizophrenia.

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