To date, national prevalence estimates for HCV in Canada are based largely on modeling studies, which relied on limited and often poor quality, non-population level data, making it very difficult to develop appropriate policy recommendations. The aim of this study was to perform a serosurvey to obtain a population-based estimate of the prevalence of HCV infection in Ontario by birth cohort, allowing for an estimate of the number of HCV cases by age cohort in Canada.

Recently, the Canadian Task Force on Preventative Health Care recommended against birth-cohort screening for HCV due to a lack of high-quality evidence on the effectiveness of screening, high resource implications and financial barriers to accessing treatment. However, the prevalence estimates used in the Task Force recommendations were markedly lower than the ones presented here, and were based on modeling studies rather than population-level seroprevalence data. Our study therefore generates essential data to reframe policy discussions regarding the implementation of population screening strategies for HCV in those born between 1945 and 1974.

This study from a large population-based sample provide robust estimates of HCV prevalence in the population, which are higher than previous estimates from modeling studies, underscoring the value of serosurveys for accurate prevalence data. These results provide updated data to underpin birth cohort screening recommendations for HCV in Canada, in the context of recently available effective direct-acting antiviral drug regimens.

Read the study by Jordan Feld et al. here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0191184