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CDC Reports Significant Increase in Hepatitis C-Related Deaths

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released preliminary surveillance data showing that in 2014, hepatitis C-related deaths reached a record high of 19,659 in the US, and more than half of those deaths were in people between 55 to 64 years of age.1 In a separate study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases, results showed that more Americans now die as a result of hepatitis C infection than from 60 other infectious diseases combined, including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis.2 Data from both studies were collected from death certificates which commonly underreport hepatitis C, suggesting that the number of hepatitis C-related deaths is potentially even higher.1,2

Those who are considered to be at high risk for hepatitis C include baby boomers (people born between 1945 and 1965), injection drug users, and those who received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant prior to 1992.

John W. Ward, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, stated that, “Because hepatitis C often has few noticeable symptoms, the number of new cases is likely much higher than what is reported. Due to limited screening and underreporting, we estimate the number of new infections is closer to 30,000 per year. We must act now to diagnose and treat hidden infections before they become deadly and to prevent new infections.”3

It’s important that efforts to raise awareness are continued to reduce the spread of the virus and also reverse the trend of increased rates in mortality due to HCV.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Viral Hepatitis, Statistics & Surveillance, 2014. May 4, 2016.
  2. Kathleen N. Ly, Elizabeth M. Hughes, et al. Rising Mortality Associated With Hepatitis C Virus in the United States, 2003–2013. Clin Infect Dis. (2016) 62 (10): 1287-1288.
  3. CDC Press Release: Hepatitis C kills more Americans than any other infectious disease. Forum for Collaborative HIV Research. May 4, 2016.