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Viral Hepatitis in the United States: Data and Trends

Millions of Americans from all walks of life are living with viral hepatitis, and most don’t know they have the virus.

  • 3.5 million people are estimated to be living with hepatitis C in the United States. The actual number may be as high as 4.7 million or as low as 2.5 million.1
  • 850,000 people in the U.S. are estimated to be living with hepatitis B. The actual number may be as high as 2.2 million or as low as 730,000.2
  • More than half of persons living with hepatitis do not know that they have the virus. Thus, they are at risk for life threatening liver disease and cancer and unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.
    • 67% of persons living with hepatitis B infection do not know they have the virus.
    • 51% of persons living with hepatitis C infection do not know they have the virus.
  • Three out of four people living with hepatitis C infection are baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965.
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are the racial/ethnic group that is most heavily affected by hepatitis B virus. Asians and Pacific Islanders represent about 5% of the U.S. population, but they represent about half of all persons living with hepatitis B. As a result, 1 in 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are living with hepatitis B.

Hepatitis C infections are increasing in the United States.

  • Acute hepatitis C infections increased 250% from 2010 to 2014.

Incidence of acute hepatitis C in the United States, 2000-2013
Reported number of acute hepatitis C cases – United States 2000-2014
  • Acute hepatitis C infections increased 364% from 2006 to 2012 in four states affected by the opioid epidemic (Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia).

Increases in hepatitis B infections are being fueled by the epidemics of opioid and heroin use that are gripping many communities across the United States.

  • After decades of declines in new cases, progress on hepatitis B prevention has stalled in the US as a whole and, in some states, hepatitis B infections have increased.
  • Acute hepatitis B infections increased 114% from 2006 to 2013 in three states affected by the opioid epidemic (Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia).

Incidence of acute hepatitis B virus infection has overall decreased in the United States but increased in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia from 2006 to 2013.
Incidence of acute hepatitis B virus infection by year in the United States and Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia from 2006 to 2013.

 

Hepatitis B and C are responsible for increasing rates of liver cancer and premature deaths.

  • Viral hepatitis is a leading cause of liver cancer.
  • Unlike other types of cancers, rates of liver cancer have been increasing in the United States.
    • Rates of new liver cancer cases increased 38% from 2003 to 2012.3
    • Liver-cancer related death rates are increasing. Almost 23,000 people died from liver cancer in 2012. This is a 56% increase in deaths since 2003.
    • More men die from liver cancer, but rates are increasing more quickly among women. From 2008 to 2012, the liver cancer-related death rate increased by an average 2.8% per year among men and 3.4% per year among women.
  • Since 2012, there have been more deaths due to hepatitis C than all 60 of the other reportable infectious diseases combined.

Chart showing nationally notable infectious diseases decreasing since 2003, but HCV has increased in that time
HCV Deaths and Deaths from Other Nationally Notifiable Infectious Diseases, 2003-2013

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1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26171595

2 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxyhhs.nihlibrary.nih.gov/doi/10.1002/hep.28109/epdf Roberts et al 

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/research/articles/arn_7512.htm

Content created by Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy
Content last reviewed on June 7, 2016