The incidence of new hepatitis C (HCV) infections in the United States has dramatically increased in the last decade, with four times the number of new cases reported in 2020 compared to 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends HCV testing for all adults to diagnose and begin treatment early in affected patients and prevent new infections. Early detection and treatment can prevent HCV advancement and reduce the likelihood of developing associated health problems, such as chronic liver disease.
The prevalence of HCV is notably higher in Hispanics compared to non-Hispanic white and Black populations. While about 1.3% of the United States’ total population was reported HCV-positive, 9.6% of the Hispanic population in the US was reported HCV-positive as of a 2018 brief published by the Hispanic Health Network. The authors suggest this discrepancy may be due to a lack of risk awareness in Hispanic communities. Access to equitable and culturally appropriate healthcare may also contribute to differences in HCV prevalence, including healthcare professional biases – conscious or unconscious – language barriers and access to health insurance.
In addition to the increased prevalence of HCV, Hispanic patients are much more likely to develop advanced disease than non-Hispanic patients. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Hispanic people were up to 40% more likely to die from hepatitis C than non-Hispanic people in 2018. Early detection and treatment initiation could be critical in reducing hepatitis C-related deaths in Hispanic communities.
Molecular Testing Labs is at the forefront of hepatitis C testing. We can perform accurate and reliable qualitative HCV testing on dried blood spots, and our lab has also developed a method to perform quantitative viral load testing on dried blood spot samples. With our minimally invasive testing options, we are working to improve health equity and access to affordable acute and preventative diagnostic services for all patients.
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- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 9). Dramatic increase in hepatitis C: CDC now recommends hepatitis C testing for all adults.gov. https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/vitalsigns/index.html
- World Health Organization. (2023, July 18). Hepatitis C.int. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-c
- Betancourt, G., Mares, L., & Scaccabarrozzi, L. (2018). Hispanics/Latinx and Hepatitis: An overlooked health disparity. org. https://hispanichepatitisday.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/hispanics-hepatitis-health-disparity-brief-2018.pdf
- US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Hepatitis and Hispanic Americans. HHS.gov. https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/hepatitis-and-hispanic-americans#:~:text=In%202017%2C%20Hispanics%20were%2070,%2DHispanic%20whites%2C%20in%202018.