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Increasing prevalence of cirrhosis among U.S. adults aware or unaware of their chronic hepatitis C virus infection

  • Prowpanga Udompap
    Affiliations
    Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
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  • Ajitha Mannalithara
    Affiliations
    Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
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  • Nae-Yun Heo
    Affiliations
    Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

    Department of Internal Medicine, Haeundae Paik Hospital, Inje University, College of Medicine, Busan, Republic of Korea
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  • Donghee Kim
    Affiliations
    Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
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  • W. Ray Kim
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Address: Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr. Always Bldg, Room M211, Stanford, CA 94305, USA. Tel.: +1 650 725 6511; fax: +1 650 723 5488.
    Affiliations
    Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
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Published:January 22, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2016.01.009

      Background & Aims

      Cirrhosis from hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. We determine the prevalence of cirrhosis among HCV-infected American adults including those unaware of their infection.

      Methods

      Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data, we identified participants aged ⩾20 years with detectable serum HCV RNA. The prevalence of advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis was determined for eras 1 (1988–94), 2 (1999–2006) and 3 (2007–2012) by using FIB-4 >3.25 and APRI >2.0, respectively.

      Results

      Out of 52,644 NHANES examinees, 49,429 were tested for HCV, of whom 725 met the inclusion criteria (positive HCV RNA with available data for FIB-4 and APRI). Based on APRI, 6.6% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.2–11.0) of HCV-infected adults in era 1, 7.6% (95% CI: 3.4–11.8) in era 2 and 17.0% (95% CI: 8.0–26.0) in era 3 had cirrhosis. In the multivariable regression analysis, this era effect was attributable to increasing age (odds ratio [OR]:1.04, 95% CI: 1.02–1.07), diabetes (OR: 2.33, 95% CI: 1.01–5.40) and obesity (OR: 2.96, 95% CI: 1.15–7.57). Cirrhosis was as common among respondents who were unaware of their infection as those who were aware (both 11%). Results were identical when FIB-4 was used.

      Conclusions

      Among HCV-infected American adults, the proportion with cirrhosis has increased rapidly. Cirrhosis prevalence remains high in individuals unaware of their HCV infection. These data highlight the urgency for HCV screening regardless of symptoms, systematic assessment for liver fibrosis in those with HCV infection and institution of antivirals to prevent advanced liver disease.

      Lay summary

      Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of cirrhosis, creating a large public health burden. Based on the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey sample, we found the proportion of patients with cirrhosis among Americans with HCV infection increased from 6.6% to 17.0% over the past two decades. Patients who were unaware of their infection were just as likely to have cirrhosis as those who knew about their infection, which highlights the need for screening and treatment for HCV at the population level.

      Graphical abstract

      Abbreviations:

      HCV (hepatitis C virus), HCC (hepatocellular carcinoma), APRI (AST to platelet ratio index), FIB-4 (Fibrosis-4), ALT (alanine aminotransferase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase), BMI (body mass index)

      Keywords

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