Hepatitis C Infection Rates Rising in Women, Young Children

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Rates of hepatitis C virus detection increased in U.S. women aged 15-44 years and in children less than 2 years old from 2011 to 2014, according to investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A report published July 21 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report revealed hepatitis C virus (HCV) detection rates (detection via antibody or RNA positivity) that were determined using data collected from Quest Diagnostics for Kentucky and for the United States. In Kentucky, the rate of HCV detection in women aged 15-44 increased 213% over the study period, from 275 to 862 cases per 100,000 people, and for the entire U.S., the rate of detection increased by 22% from 139 to 169 cases per 100,000 people (65[28]:705-10).

The rate of HCV testing for children under 2 years old in Kentucky increased 151% over the study period, rising from 403 to 1,011 per 100,000 people, and the rate of children born to HCV-positive mothers increased from 0.71% to 1.59%. Nationwide, the HCV testing rate for children under 2 years old increased 14% from 310 to 353 per 100,000, and the rate of children born to HCV-positive mothers increased from 0.19% to 0.32%.

“These findings underscore the importance of providing primary prevention services and following current recommendations to identify persons at risk for HCV infection and test accordingly; doing so among pregnant women would improve early identification of HCV-infected infants and linkage of the mother and infant to care and treatment,” the CDC investigators said.

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