Hepatitis C Cure: Too Late for Many

Before the recent vast improvements in hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment, there had been a number of studies predicting a huge increase in HCV-related mortality due to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cirrhosis.

Despite the optimism that have come with the new treatments, the most recent data (LA Beste, et al. Gastroenterol 2015; 149: 1471-82) continue to predict a huge and increasing burden of chronic liver disease due to HCV.

The authors used a national retrospective cohort of Veteran Affairs (VA) patients with cirrhosis (n=129,998) or HCC (n=21,326) from 2001-13.  They identified an increasing proportion of cirrhosis and HCC during that timeframe.

Key findings:

  • From 2001 to 2013, cirrhosis prevalence nearly doubled (664 –>1058 per 100,000 enrollees) driven by HCV and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; deaths due to cirrhosis also increased from 83 to 126 per 100,000 patient years
  • From 2001 to 2013, HCC incidence increased 2.5-fold from 17 to 45 per 100,000 patient-years and HCC mortality tripled from 13 to 37 per 100,000 patient-years.  HCC incidence was driven overwhelmingly by HCV.
  • Based on current trends, cirrhosis prevalence will peak in 2021 according to the authors, though they acknowledge that patients from the VA may not be representative of the population at large and that the study has inherent weaknesses due to computerized data collection in this retrospective study.

My take: Despite dramatic improvements in HCV treatment, sadly, it is still going to get a lot worse with regard to disease burden & mortality from HCV before it will improve.

Briefly noted: F Negro. Gastroenterol 2015; 149: 1345-60.  “Extrahepatic morbidity and mortality of chronic hepatitis C”  This review article discusses diabetes, cardiovascular manifestations of HCV, fatigue, cognitive impairment, mixed cryoglobulinemia, and non-hodgkin lymphoma.

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4 thoughts on “Hepatitis C Cure: Too Late for Many

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