African Americans at Significantly Higher Risk of HCV Mortality
Because African Americans face a higher mortality risk, treatment is important for African Americans with hepatitis C virus infection.
Publish date: February 23, 2016
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among African Americans is roughly double that of non-Hispanic whites, according to Hope King, PhD, MSPH, deputy branch chief for the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch in the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although African Americans account for about 11% of the U.S. population, they represent 25% of those living with HCV infection.
“We also see death rates from hepatitis C among African Americans that are double those of the general population,” King noted in a webcast. “This is strong evidence of a significant health disparity, and highlights that we must work harder to diagnose and successfully treat hepatitis C among African Americans.”
Mortality poses an even bigger problem for African American patients with HCV who experienced the highest death rates from the disease in 2010. In 2011, HCV virus was listed as the cause of death for 7.89 per 100,000 African Americans, compared with 4.19 per 100,000 whites. The CDC also notes that African Americans had the highest mortality rates of liver and bile duct cancer.
Treatment options for African American patients have improved. Earlier pegylated interferon therapies (ribavirin) cured only about 20% of African Americans with poor adverse event (AE) profiles. According to the CDC, African Americans are more likely to have a gene that makes their cells less responsive to interferon’s mechanism of action. However, the new generation of treatments (ledipasvir/sofosbuvir; and ombitasvir, paritaprevir, and ritonavir) offer cure rates of 90% to 100% with fewer AEs.