TUESDAY, Nov. 6, 2018 (HealthDay News) — During 2013 to 2016, more than two million people in the United States had current hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, according to a study published online Nov. 6 in Hepatology.

Megan G. Hofmeister, M.D., M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed 2013 to 2016 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the prevalence of HCV in the noninstitutionalized civilian population. In addition, data from literature reviews and population size estimation approaches were used to estimate the HCV prevalence for incarcerated people, unsheltered homeless people, active-duty military personnel, and nursing home residents.

The researchers found that during 2013 to 2016, 1.7 and 1.0 percent of all U.S. adults were HCV antibody-positive (indicating past or current infection) and HCV RNA-positive (indicating current infection), representing approximately 4.1 and 2.4 million persons, respectively. This included 3.7 and 2.1 million noninstitutionalized civilian adults with HCV antibodies and HCV RNA, respectively, and an estimated 0.38 and 0.25 million HCV antibody-positive and HCV RNA-positive persons not part of the 2013 to 2016 NHANES sample.

“HCV antibody prevalence may have increased, while HCV RNA prevalence may have decreased,” the authors write. “Continued efforts to reduce the burden of HCV infection will require improved interventions to prevent infections, expanded testing to find undiagnosed persons, and strategies to ensure treatment so that HCV-infected persons are promptly cured.”

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