An analysis of the estimated number of people living with hepatitis C virus (HCV) broken down by state has illuminated disparities according to sex, race, birth cohort and state of residence.

Heather Bradley, PhD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and colleagues estimated the state-by-state prevalence of hep C—the number of people living with the virus—by analyzing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data along with state-level HCV-related and drug overdose–related mortality data from the National Vital Statistics System. To account for populations not covered by the national survey, the researchers looked to a literature review.

Publishing their findings in Hepatology Communications, the study authors estimated that 1.3% of men and 0.6% of women in the United States have hep C, meaning that prevalence of the virus is 2.3-fold higher among men compared with women.

Among people in the baby boom generation, which the study defined as having been born between 1945 and 1969 (typically 1965 is the cutoff for this birth cohort), 1.6% had hep C, compared with 0.5% of those born in 1970 or later. This meant that HCV prevalence was 3.2-fold higher among baby boomers compared with younger individuals.

Another recent report found that hep C prevalence has been growing in the younger birth cohort, particularly among millennials.  

Among baby boomers, statewide prevalence of HCV ranged from a low of 0.7% in North Dakota to 3.6% in Oklahoma and 6.8% in Washington, DC. Among those born after 1969, the HCV prevalence rate was more than twice as high in Kentucky, New Mexico, Oklahoma and West Virginia compared with the national average.

HCV prevalence was 1.8% among African Americans and 0.8% among other races, meaning that Blacks had a 2.2-fold higher rate of the virus compared with other races. The magnitude of this race-based disparity ranged from a 1.3-fold difference to a 7.8-fold difference, depending on the state.

Nationally, 23% of hep C infections are among African Americans, who make up 12% of the population.

“These estimates provide information on prevalent HCV infections that jurisdictions can use for understanding and monitoring local disease patterns and racial disparities in burden of disease,” the study authors concluded.

To read the study, click here.