Hepatitis C Disparities among African Americans
During Black History Month, we honor the achievements of African Americans in the United States and discuss public health issues that disproportionately impact the African-American community, including chronic hepatitis C infection.
Chronic Hepatitis C among African Americans
Infection with chronic hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver disease, liver cancer, and liver-related death in the United States. African Americans have higher rates of infection and hepatitis C-related death compared with the overall population. For example:
- Africans Americans comprise approximately 11% of the U.S. population, but represent 25% of people with chronic hepatitis C infections.
- African Americans aged 20 to 59 are 1.6 times more likely to be chronically infected with hepatitis C compared to other races.
- African Americans aged 60 and older are 10 times more likely to be chronically infected with hepatitis C compared to other races.
- In 2014, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis were among the top 10 leading causes of death among African Americans 45 to 64 years of age.
Chronic hepatitis C infection can now be cured in over 90% of individuals, including among African Americans, for whom previously available treatments were associated with relatively low cure rates compared with Caucasians. Furthermore, expert guidelines recommend treatment for nearly all persons.
Who is at Risk?
The first step to achieving a hepatitis C cure is to find out who is at risk and then get tested. This 5-minute online CDC Hepatitis Risk Assessment is a useful tool to use and to share with friends and family.
Who Should Be Tested?
- All people in the baby boomer generation (born between 1945-1965) should be screened for HCV at least once.
- In addition, people with recent or ongoing risks for HCV infection should also be tested. This includes:
- Persons who have ever injected drugs, including those who injected only once many years ago,
- Recipients of blood transfusions before 1992, including for sickle-cell anemia,
- Recipients of solid organ transplants before 1992,
- Patients who have ever received long0term hemodialysis treatment,
- Click here for a full list of who should be tested for HCV infection.
Resources to Raise Awareness
The tools below can also help in awareness efforts and highlight key issues related to hepatitis C infection among African Americans.
- Learn more about viral hepatitis at www.hhs.gov/hepatitis.
- Watch the archived webinar on Hepatitis C and African American Women, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, Office on Women’s Health, and Office of Minority Health.
- Read the report from the HHS Forum on Hepatitis C in African American Communities and learn of key strategies that were identified by community members.
- Share and post materials from the Know More Hepatitis campaign which encourages baby boomers to get tested for hepatitis C.
The National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan 2017-2020 includes a focus on African Americans as one of the priority populations impacted by viral hepatitis. One of our national goals is to reduce health disparities in viral hepatitis, including reducing deaths among African Americans related to viral hepatitis infection. Only by working together and in the communities most impacted by viral hepatitis can we achieve this goal and improve the health and lives of people across the nation.
African Americans have higher rates of #HepC. Learn how to raise awareness & reduce disparities: https://go.usa.gov/x9hwG