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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Major DoH push on self-care

GPs could soon identify patients most at risk of hepatitis C by asking them to fill in a simple questionnaire.

The assessment tool, developed in the US, separates patients into different risk groups depending on their responses, seven of which strongly predicted hepatitis C infection (see box, below).

The study found patients who responded positively to two of these seven questions – on risk factors such as sex with a prostitute, injecting drug use and exposure to blood products – had a 10 per cent risk of

hepatitis C infection.

Those who had more than four positive responses had a 50 per cent risk, according to the study, published in Archives of Internal Medicine this week.

Study leader Dr David Weinberg, chief of gastroenterology at the Fox Chase Cancer Centre, Philadelphia, said: ‘Identifying patients with hepatitis C before clinical presentation is very

difficult.

‘A major problem is that many of the risk factors doctors feel awkward about asking about and patients feel awkward about volunteering.'

Dr Weinberg said he hoped patients would find it easier

to report risk factors by questionnaire.

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