The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Hepatitis has released the 2013 Viral Hepatitis Surveillance Report, which provides data on hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States.
Surveillance data are used to better understand trends in the number of persons becoming newly infected (referred to as “acute” infection) with HAV, HBV, and HCV in this country, and how transmission is occurring. Data also are collected for persons living with hepatitis B and hepatitis C who were infected in the past. CDC, state and local health departments, and others use surveillance data to create and evaluate programs and policies that can prevent viral hepatitis infections and improve the lives of persons who are already infected.
Below are a few highlights from the 2013 viral hepatitis surveillance data:
- Reported cases of acute (new) HCV infection increased by 152% from 2010 to 2013, with the largest increases in reports for cases among young adults aged 20-29 years.
- In 2013, about 132,000 cases of past or present hepatitis C (meaning persons who were once infected and cleared the infection and those who are still living with HCV infection) were reported to CDC. Most of these reported cases were among persons 40 years of age and younger.
- Deaths from hepatitis C increased from 2009 through 2013; during this period, adults aged 55-64 years had the highest mortality rate.
- Reports of acute (new) HBV infection increased for the first time since 1990; with a 5.4% increase from 2012.
- Six jurisdictions funded to collect enhanced hepatitis data reported a total of 2,756 cases of chronic hepatitis B; about half of these cases were among Asians/Pacific Islanders (APIs) and almost two-thirds were among people born outside the United States.
- The number of hepatitis A cases reported to CDC in 2013 increased 14% over 2012; many of the reported infections occurred as part of an outbreak involving people who ate contaminated imported, frozen pomegranate seeds.
There are some limitations of these data because not all cases of viral hepatitis are identified, and not all cases are reported to state health departments that, in turn, share data with CDC. To overcome these limitations, in the future, CDC would like to strengthen viral hepatitis surveillance efforts in the United States, improve state and local capacity to detect new infections, coordinate prevention activities, provide feedback to providers for quality improvement, and track progress toward prevention goals.
In addition, there is a need to increase the number of state and local jurisdictions with provider and public health networks that provide testing and linkage to lifesaving care and treatment for persons living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C. These steps coupled with enhanced targeted prevention programs in states reporting the largest increases in new hepatitis C cases would result in tremendous strides in reducing the toll of viral hepatitis in this country as well as progress toward achieving the goals of the national Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. These and other efforts can control and prevent continued transmission of viral hepatitis infections, viral hepatitis-related illnesses, and deaths.