A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases shows that in 2013, hepatitis C related deaths outnumbered deaths from 60 other infectious diseases combined, including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis. The CDC also released preliminary surveillance data revealing that deaths associated with hepatitis C reached an all-time high of 19,659 in 2014. Both studies rely on data from death certificates reported to CDC, and because death certificates often underreport the disease, the actual hepatitis C-related mortality is likely even greater than indicated.
The highest burden of hepatitis-C falls on baby boomers (those born between 1945 and 1965), who may have been unknowingly infected during medical procedures in the years following World War II, and many of whom remain unaware they contracted the disease. The preliminary surveillance data released today also show a trend of hepatitis C infections among people who inject drugs, particularly young White individuals with a history of injection drug use in rural and suburban areas of the Midwest and Eastern United States.