Hepatitis C virus could become a rare disease in the next 22 years, as a result of recently approved, highly effective new therapies, according to new research data.
“Making hepatitis C (HCV) a rare disease would be a tremendous, life-saving accomplishment,” Mina Kabiri, doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and study co-investigator, said in a press release. “However, to do this, we will need improved access to care and increased treatment capacity, primarily in the form of primary care physicians who can manage the care of infected people identified through increased screening.”
Kabiri and colleagues developed and validated a mathematical model to simulate, analyze and predict disease trends in the US population infected with HCV from 2001 to 2050. They used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the CDC and more than 30 clinical trials of new direct-acting antiviral therapies. The model’s projections included prevalence of HCV infection, prevalence and incidence of fibrosis stages F0 to F4, advanced HCV stages, decompensated cirrhosis (DC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
The model projected that in the US between 2001 and 2013, chronic HCV infection decreased from 3.2 million to 2.3 million cases, 157,300 people died of HCV-related liver complications, 415,000 patients with HCV died of other causes, 589,100 achieved sustained virologic response and 251,000 new people became chronically infected. Factoring in population growth, new therapies and implementation of a birth-cohort screening in 2013 (expected to identify 487,000 infected baby boomers in the next decade), the model projected that HCV would affect 1 in 1,500 people or less by 2036. DC, HCC and liver-related mortality also are expected to peak by 2019-2020.
“Screening in baby boomers and effective new therapies can make [HCV] a rare disease in 22 years,” Jagpreet Chhatwal, PhD, assistant professor of health services research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, and study co-investigator, told Healio.com/Gastroenterology. “In addition, more aggressive screening strategies are needed to further reduce the burden of disease.”
Disclosure: See the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.