Wednesday, July 01, 2015
New cases of hepatitis C are drastically underreported to federal officials, researchers contend in a new study. And they suggested that may be hampering public health efforts to cope with the chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
The new study found that only one out of 183 Massachusetts residents diagnosed between 2001 and 2011 with acute hepatitis C infection was reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The rest went unreported, either because their test results didn't come back quickly enough or because the results didn't meet the strict CDC definition for hepatitis C infection, said senior study author Dr. Arthur Kim, director of the Viral Hepatitis Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
"We were shocked to find only one made it to the CDC, reported as an acute hepatitis C case," Kim said. "This indicates that only a small fraction of cases ever get reported to the CDC. They might be seeing only what amounts to the tip of a very large iceberg."
The findings were published June 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Reported new cases of hepatitis C have more than tripled in recent years, rising from 694 cases in 2005 to 2,138 cases in 2013, according to the best CDC estimates.
However, the CDC believes the actual number of new hepatitis C cases is about 14 times the number of reported cases in any given year, due to the reporting troubles.
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