AASLD 2011: Deaths Due to Hepatitis C Now Exceed HIV Deaths

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Deaths related to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and its complications have exceeded deaths due to HIV/AIDS since 2007, according to an analysis by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers presented at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Liver Meeting (AASLD 2011) last week in San Francisco.

Between 1999 and 2007, the hepatitis B death rate remained stable at around 1800, the HIV death rate fell to 12,734, and the hepatitis C death rate rose to 15,106. Coinfection with both hepatitis B and C, or with either hepatitis virus and HIV, increased the chances of death.

"To achieve declines in mortality similar to those seen with HIV will require new policy directions and commitment to detect and link infected persons to care and successful treatment," the researchers concluded.

Below is the text of a press release issued by AASLD summarizing the study and its findings.

Records Show Deaths Associated With Hepatitis C Have Overtaken Deaths Caused by HIV

San Francisco -- November 8, 2011 -- By examining multiple-cause death records, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that deaths from viral hepatitis are insufficiently appreciated and by 2007 were exceeding reported deaths caused by HIV. Approximately 21.8 million records were included in the study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases on Tuesday, November 8.

Those records were examined for mention of hepatitis B or C and for HIV. For the period of 1999 to 2007, deaths associated with hepatitis B remained constant, HIV declined, and hepatitis C increased -- significantly. Almost three-quarters of HCV-related deaths occurred in the 45-64 year-old age group.  HIV was one of the comorbidities associated with viral hepatitis, as were chronic liver disease, other hepatitis virus, and alcohol-related conditions.

Scott Holmberg, MD, the study's presenter at the Liver Meeting spoke directly to the conclusion of his team's study, which states a change in policy direction to improve detection and access to care for patients with hepatitis is required to decrease mortality associated with hepatitis: "Without reducing allocation of resources that have diminished HIV deaths, we think a commitment to detect and treat chronic HCV will markedly improve the growing wave of disability and death from this under-appreciated viral infection."

11/15/11

Reference

SD Holmberg, KN Ly, J Xing, et al. The Growing Burden of Mortality Associated with Viral Hepatitis in the United States, 1999-2007. 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD 2011). San Francisco, November 4-8. 2011. Abstract 243.

Other Source

American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Records Show Deaths Associated With Hepatitis C Have Overtaken Deaths Caused by HIV. Press release. November 8, 2011.