The highest mortality rates were observed among males, persons aged 45-54 and 55-64 years, Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic Native American/Alaska Natives, the authors report. They suggest that demographic differences are related to prevalence among the various populations.
The observed increases likely reflect both true increases in mortality and the growing use of serologic tests for HCV, the authors say. As such, true increases in hepatitis C-related mortality during 1995-1999 were likely more gradual than the observed trends, and differences in mortality patterns between the time periods are difficult to interpret. While the study was limited by possible inaccuracies in death certificate data, the authors believe that this more likely lead to an underestimate of the true number of hepatitis C-related deaths.
In summary, substantial increases in overall hepatitis-C-related mortality rates have occurred since 1995, the authors conclude. The relatively young age of persons dying from hepatitis C-related liver disease has made hepatitis C-related disease a leading infectious cause of years of potential life lost as well as an important cause of premature mortality overall. They point out the ongoing need for measures to prevent progression of liver disease among those infected with HCV, and the need for ongoing analysis of mortality trends.
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