Among people with hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis D virus (HDV) coinfection is associated with a greater number of medical claims filed and higher health care costs, MedPage Today reports.

Publishing their findings in the journal Hepatology, Vinod Rustgi, MD, of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and colleagues analyzed health care claims from 2,727 cases of HDV and matched them evenly with cases of chronic HBV without HDV.

The average age of the cohort members was 46 years old, and about 55% of the group were men.

Those with HDV, compared with those with HBV only, had a higher rate of substance abuse, sexually transmitted infections, decompensated cirrhosis (the less advanced form of the severe liver disease) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfection.

Compared with the 12 months prior to their first HDV diagnosis, the 12 months afterward saw the average number of health care claims increase from 25.6 to 29.0 and the average health care costs increase from $19,476 to $23,605. By comparison, during a randomly selected 12-month period among those with HBV only, there were an average of 25.2 health care claims and $18,228 in costs.

After adjusting the data to account for various differences between the cohort members, the study authors found that compared with those with HBV only, those with HDV had a 16% higher total number of annual health care claims and 32% higher annual health care costs.

HDV is associated with higher health care utilization and cost burden than HBV alone, underscoring the need for improved screening and treatment,” the study authors concluded.

To read the study abstract, click here.