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Hepatitis C Prevalent in Less Than 1% of US Population

Novel epidemiological approach accounting for persons with undiagnosed HCV shows half of cases in US are in 9 states, including 5 in Appalachia.

Epidemiologists found a 0.93% overall prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV)infection cases in the US while using a novel assessment method in a new study. The report, which included undiagnosed cases among its prevalence rates, found that approximately half of the cases occurred in just 9 states, including 5 in Appalachia.

Understanding the rate of HCV infection is critical for jurisdictions making strategies to reduce HCV burden among their population, Eli Rosenberg, PhD, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University at Albany School of Public Health, State University of New York, told MD Magazine®.

“These results can guide how much prevention and treatment efforts need to be scaled, and the resources needed to do so,” he said.

Although accurate estimates of the current burden of HCV infection in each US jurisdiction are critical to establishing effective prevention and treatment programs, Rosenberg and colleagues suggested the current analyses provide an incomplete picture.

The investigators noted that while HCV infections are required to be reported to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—which supports the current study—these acute and chronic infections represent only a small proportion of cases, and in some states neither are reportable.

“National case surveillance provides an incomplete picture of the burden of HCV infection,” Eli and colleagues asserted. “Some jurisdictions maintain enhanced surveillance programs funded by the CDC or other sources, yet a comprehensive jurisdiction-specific picture for the Nation remains inestimable from case surveillance data.”

Eli elaborated on the limitations of current methods and the challenges in achieving more accurate assessments, in his discussion with MD Mag.

“Across jurisdiction, hepatitis C surveillance is inconsistently and often substantially underfunded, impacting the completeness of these data,” he said. “Estimating those additional infections that are underdiagnosed compounds the challenge.”

Read on: Hepatitis C Prevalent in Less Than 1% of US Population

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