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Prevalence of Hepatitis C Found to Vary Widely Among Hispanics

January 15, 2014

This article was reported by Science Codex.

Science Codex reported the results of an Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University study of hepatitis C prevalence among US Hispanic groups. The study's analysis of data gathered for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos indicated hepatitis C infection varied widely among Hispanic groups and was much more likely among Puerto Rican Hispanics. The NIH study collected data on 11,964 Hispanic adults from the Bronx, Miami, Chicago, and San Diego.

The Albert Einstein study authors were unable to explain why hepatitis C prevalence was higher among Puerto Rican Hispanics. Lead Author Mark Kuniholm urged community-based campaigns to increase hepatitis C testing and treatment among Hispanics and to focus extra effort on communities with large Puerto Rican populations, such as the Bronx or Chicago.

Kuniholm explained that earlier national health surveys assessed hepatitis C prevalence only among Mexican-Americans. However, the latest data collected for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicated dramatic differences in hepatitis C prevalence among men in other Hispanic groups: "Mexican (1.9 percent), Dominican (1.5 percent), Central American (1 percent), South American (0.4 percent), Cuban (0.8 percent)," and Puerto Rican (11.6 percent). Hispanic women generally had lower hepatitis C prevalence than Hispanic men, and Puerto Rican women had the highest rate (3.9 percent) of all US groups of Hispanic women. NHANES reported the overall US hepatitis prevalence was 1.3 percent.

In 2012, CDC recommended that baby boomers and people with increased risk have hepatitis C tests. The US Food and Drug Administration recently approved new hepatitis C medications that could cure more than 80 percent of hepatitis C infections.

The full report, "Prevalence of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in US Hispanic/Latino Adults: Results from the NHANES 2007–2010 and HCHS/SOL Studies," was published online in the Journal of Infectious Diseases (2014; doi: 10.1093/infdis/jit672).

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