Hepatitis C-related deaths reached an all-time high in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday, surpassing total combined deaths from 60 other infectious diseases including HIV, pneumococcal disease and tuberculosis. The increase occurred despite recent advances in medications that can cure most infections within three months. “Not everyone is getting tested and diagnosed, people don’t get referred to care as fully as they should, and then they are not being placed on treatment,” said Dr. John Ward, director of CDC’s division of viral hepatitis.
At the same time, surveillance data analyzed by the CDC shows an alarming uptick in new cases of hepatitis C, mainly among those with a history of using injectable drugs. From 2010 to 2014, new cases of hepatitis C infection more than doubled. Because hepatitis C has few noticeable symptoms, said Ward, the 2,194 cases reported in 2014 are likely only the tip of the iceberg. “Due to limited screening and under-reporting, we estimate the number of new infections is closer to 30,000 per year,” Ward said. “So both deaths and new infections are on the rise. These statistics represent the two battles that we are fighting. We must act now to diagnose and treat hidden infections before they become deadly, and to prevent new infections.” READ MORE