Spotlight Series on Hepatitis C


Hepatitis C Is a Major Reason for Healthcare Utilization in the United States

June 27, 2014

This article was reported by NAM Aidsmap.

NAM Aidsmap reported on a study that investigated the impact of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection on the use of health care resources in the United States. The researchers examined nationally representative datasets to determine HCV-infected adults' use of outpatient, emergency department, and inpatient resources between 2001 and 2010. Patients were divided into three age groups: older (born prior to 1945); baby boomer (born 1945-65); and younger (born after 1965).

Results show that of the 824 million outpatient visits in 2001–2010, 2.29 million were from HCV patients. Baby boomers made three-quarters of the HCV visits, and 4 percent, 8 percent, and 10 percent of younger, baby boomer, and older patients, respectively, experienced liver-related complications. Patients with HCV made 72,000 of the 90 million emergency room visits, and baby boomers made 68 percent of those visits. Of the 32 million inpatient admissions, 475,000 involved HCV patients, and baby boomers made 71 percent of those HCV admissions. The proportion of admissions for liver-related complications was 41, 35, and 14 percent for older, baby boomer, and younger HCV-infected patients, respectively. Total annual cost of inpatient care for HCV patients was more than $15 billion.

The researchers concluded that "individuals with HCV infection are large users of health care resources," and health care utilization was highest and increasing among baby boomers. The researchers contend that the findings illustrate the need to increase HCV testing and treatment.

The full report, "National Estimates of Healthcare Utilization by Individuals with Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States," was published online in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (2014; doi: 10.1093/cid/ciu427).

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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.

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