Hidden Epidemic: Chronic HBV and HCV Infections

January 3, 2011
Clinical Laboratory News


A new report released by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the Trust for America’s Health found that 2 million Americans are currently living with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and 2.7–3.9 million more are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Experts estimate that 65–75% of these individuals don’t know they are infected.

The report, titled “HBV & HCV: America’s Hidden Epidemics,” outlines new strategies and policies to combat the diseases, such as the creation of a comprehensive surveillance system that could be constructed using existing surveillance systems for HIV or other infectious diseases. The surveillance system would leverage these resources and create an integrated approach for treating and preventing the diseases.

In the U.S., HBV and HCV infection contributes to more than three-quarters of liver cancer cases and 57% of cirrhosis cases. Statistics show that HBV infection causes nearly 3,000–4,000 deaths each year from liver cancer or severe liver disease, and HCV infection contributes to an estimated 8,000 to 13,000 deaths annually.



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