Given the unusually high burden of hepatitis C virus infection affecting the baby boomer generation, it is essential to identify those with infection and provide them with proper treatment, according to researchers.
They analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathered between 1999 and 2008, but limited the analysis to those born between 1945 and 1965. The participants selected for analysis were interviewed and also provided blood samples for anti-HCV testing.
The main outcome measure was prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies as established through blood testing. The following independent variables were analyzed as possible confounders or predictors of anti-HCV prevalence within the age-specific cohort: race/ethnicity; gender; country of birth; veteran status; marital status; educational level achieved; household income; health insurance status; daily alcohol intake within the past year; age at first sexual intercourse; number of sexual partners to date; lifetime use of injection drugs (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine); history of blood transfusion before 1992; and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) test levels.
The researchers found that among those in the 1945 to 1965 birth group, the anti-HCV incidence was 3.2% (95% CI, 2.8-3.8), which was significantly higher than other adults (0.9%).
Within this demographic, the prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies was higher among non-Hispanic blacks, individuals with history of injection drug use (56.8%; 95% CI, 48.4-64.8) and those with high ALT levels (12.7%; 95% CI, 10.7-15.1). The most significant anti-HCV prevalence predictor was injection drug use (adjusted OR=98.4; 95% CI, 58.8-164.5). Of those who tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies, 57.8% reported intake of two or more alcoholic drinks per day.
The researchers said these findings underscore the ongoing need for vigilance in diagnosing and treating HCV in the baby boomer demographic.
“In light of the high prevalence of HCV infection among persons born during 1945-1965, the increasing morbidity and mortality associated with HCV infection, and reductions in liver cancer and HCV-related mortality when HCV infection is eliminated, it is critically important to identify those persons living with HCV and link them to appropriate care and treatment,” the researchers wrote.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.