Hepatitis C deaths surpass those due to HIV

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 5, 2012

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More Americans die of complications from hepatitis C virus infection, a leading cause of liver disease, than from HIV, according to a study published in the Feb. 21 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers examined the causes of death listed on about 22 million death certificates from 1999 through 2007. About 2.4 million deaths were registered in the United States in 2007, the study said. Of those deaths, 15,106 were attributed to hepatitis C virus infection compared with 12,734 linked to HIV infection, data show (link).

Seventy-three percent of hepatitis C virus-related deaths occurred among people 45 to 64 years old in 2007.

The virus often is asymptomatic or causes nonspecific symptoms, including depression and fatigue, the study authors said. They recommend physicians screen patients at risk of developing the infection and refer those with the virus to appropriate care. Those at risk include injection drug users and incarcerated people, the study said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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