Improvement needed in HCV testing, reporting

May 15, 2013

Hepatitis C testing and reporting must be improved as the mortality rate of HCV is high among those who are relatively young, according to a new study published in the May 7, 2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Early Release on its website.

Hepatitis C testing and reporting must be improved as the mortality rate of HCV is high among those who are relatively young, according to a new study published in the May 7, 2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Early Release on its website.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported its findings from 8 United States sites from 2005 to 2011. 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, 49.2% were HCV antibody positive only, and 50.8% reported with a positive HCV RNA result, which confirmed current HCV infection.  In both groups, persons 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 those for whom death data was available, 6,734 (3.4%) died from HCV. Most of the deaths were among people who were aged 50 to 59 years, according to the CDC. “These findings reinforce recent CDC recommendations for HCV antibody testing of persons born during 1945 to 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 with 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 provided HCV antibody testing and RNA testing requires successful referral to a healthcare provider,” the CDC wrote.