HCV mortality rate high among younger people

May 15, 2013

Study focused on data from eight sites over a 6-year period and involved 217,755 participants

Hepatitis C testing and reporting must be improved, because the mortality rate of HCV is high among those who are relatively young, according to a new study.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported its findings, involving data from eight U.S. sites studied between 2005 and 2011, in the May 7, 2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Early Release posted at its website.

The annual rate of people newly reported with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was 84.7 per 100,000 population. Of 217,755 individuals newly reported to the sites, 107,209 (49.2%) were HCV antibody positive only, and 110,546 (50.8%) were reported with a positive HCV RNA result, confirming current HCV infection. In both groups, persons reported were most likely to have been born between 1945 and 1965.

“The lack of an HCV RNA test for approximately one-half of persons newly reported suggests that testing and reporting must improve to detect all persons with current infection,” the CDC wrote.

Of 197,844 newly reported individuals for whom death data was available, 6,734 (3.4%) died from HCV. Most of the deaths were among people who were 50 to 59 years of age, according to the CDC.

“These findings reinforce recent CDC recommendations for HCV antibody testing of persons born during 1945- 1965, and linkage to care for those with a follow-up positive result after HCV RNA testing,” the CDC wrote.

In addition, the percentage of deaths among people who were HCV antibody positive only (4.6%) was significantly higher than among those reported as HCV RNA positive (2.4%).

“The difference between the groups in the percentage of deaths might be explained by healthcare access. HCV RNA testing might not be available in sites providing HCV antibody testing, and RNA testing requires successful referral to a healthcare provider,” the CDC wrote.