The disease burden and mortality from Hepatitis C are predicted to increase in the United States as the number of persons with long-standing chronic infection grows.
Dr Matthew Wise and colleagues from the USA analyzed Hepatitis C mortality rates derived from US Census and multiple-cause-of-death data for 1995 to 2004.
|Overall increases were greater among males than females|
Deaths were considered Hepatitis C-related if Hepatitis C was the underlying cause of death.
The team also considered deaths to be Hepatitis C-related if chronic liver disease was the underlying cause and Hepatitis C was a contributing cause.
If human immunodeficiency virus was the underlying cause and chronic liver disease and Hepatitis C were contributing causes, then death was considered to be Hepatitis C-related.
The team identified a total of 56,409 Hepatitis C-related deaths.
Mortality rates increased 123% during the study period, from 1.1 per 100,000 persons to 2.4 per 100,000.
However, the researchers found that average annual increases were smaller during 2000 to 2004 than 1995 to 1999.
The team found after peaking in 2002 at 2.6 per 100,000, overall rates declined slightly, but continued to increase among persons aged 55 to 64 years.
Overall increases were greater among males than females.
The researchers noted that overall increases were greater among non-Hispanic blacks and Native Americans compared to non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics.
The 7,427 Hepatitis C deaths in 2004, corresponded to 148,611 years of potential life lost.
The team observed the highest mortality rates in 2004 among males, and in persons aged 45 to 54 and 55 to 64 years.
In addition, the highest mortality rates in 2004 were noted in Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks, and non-Hispanic Native American/Alaska Natives.
Dr Wise's team concludes, "Overall, Hepatitis C mortality has increased substantially since 1995."
"Despite small declines in recent years, rates have continued to increase among persons aged 55 to 64 years, Hep C is an important cause of premature mortality."