U.S. Healthcare Burden To Soar Unless Hepatitis C Detection, Treatment Improve

November 09, 1998

U.S. Health Care Burden To Soar Unless Hepatitis C Detection, Treatment Improve

CHICAGO, November 9 -- A study made public for the first time at The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases 1998 Annual Meeting in Chicago,November 6 - 10, predicts that the US could face a daunting health care burden from Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection over the next decade.

Gary Davis, MD, University of Florida, reported on an analysis of future trends based on a model that uses current data on the HCV infection rates and disease prevalence. The model projects HCV infection, disease severity and burden on the health care system in the United States over the next two decades.

Although the incidence of chronic HCV infection is declining and treatments can eradicate the disease in some patients, nearly 4 million people now have chronic HCV infection. The study found that, with the current rate of new chronic HCV cases continuing, the pool of cases would increase by only 4% over the next decade and remain stable thereafter. Nevertheless, the model estimates that by 2008 current cases of chronic HCV would result in a 61% increase of cirrhosis, 279% increase in patients with severe circulatory problems, a 68% increase in chronic HCV, a 528% increase in the need for liver transplants, anda 223% increase in liver-related deaths.

The study underscores the fact that while our health care system has developed effective treatments for chronic HCV, only a small percentage of people with the disease are being treated. According to the abstract of the presentation to the AASLD Annual Meeting, "[T]he prevalence of HCV will remain high for many years and cases with major complications of chronic Hepatitis C will increase dramatically unless effective treatment can be developed which interrupts the natural history of the infection."
AASLD is the leading medical organization for liver researchers and physicians. Founded by physicians in 1950, AASLD's mission is to advance the science and practice of hepatology. Today, AASLD provides representation and education for more than 2,200 hepatologists worldwide.

American Association For The Study of Liver Diseases

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