Discrepancy found between HCV surveillance systems

Hart-Malloy R. Am J Public Health. 2013;103:1402-1405.

  • Infectious Disease News, September 2013

Recent data suggest a discrepancy between hepatitis C seroprevalence and the number of people reported in hepatitis registries in individual states, according to researchers from the New York State Department of Health.

“Our results suggest that existing surveillance systems are inadequate for establishing disease burden and resource needs,” the researchers wrote in the American Journal of Public Health. “These findings support the growing advocacy for strengthening existing HCV surveillance systems in the United States.”

The researchers used data from the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to determine the estimated HCV seroprevalence for New Yorkers aged at least 20 years. They then used data from registries of hepatitis surveillance systems in the state.

The national data suggest that the prevalence of HCV seropositivity in New York in 2008 was approximately 1.95%. However, the surveillance data among the same population suggested a prevalence of 0.98%, which is nearly half the estimate from the NHANES data.

“Surveillance systems may not capture cases because of undiagnosed infection, diagnoses that are not reported by providers or insufficient follow-up of reported information to establish infection status,” the researchers wrote. “Future studies at the state and national level to identify cases no captured in surveillance are needed to better define screening needs and surveillance infrastructure improvements that would give more accurate estimates of disease burden.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.