1The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
Among people with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, liver disease-related deaths have risen over the last 20 years. Life expectancy has not been estimated in this population. HCV notifications (mandatory notification of anti-HCV-positive serology since 1991) reported to the New South Wales Health Department from 1992 to 2006 were linked to cause of death data. Abridged life tables were constructed from age-specific mortality rates. Life expectancy from ages 18-70 years for non-drug-related mortality causes was estimated using competing risk methods and compared to the general population of Australia. The cohort comprised 81 644 individuals with an HCV notification, with median follow-up of 7.6 years. Median age at notification was 34 years [interquartile range (IQR) 28-42] and 63% were male. Between 1992 and 2006, 4607 deaths occurred. Median age at liver- and drug-related death among males was 51 (IQR 45-66) and 36 (IQR 31-42) years, respectively, and among females was 63 (IQR 49-74) and 36 (IQR 30-41) years, respectively. In each year of follow-up before 2000, 15-21% of deaths were liver- and 30-39% were drug-related. After 2000, liver-related deaths increased to 20-26% of deaths in each year and drug-related deaths decreased to 13-19%. Excluding drug-related causes of death, life expectancy was lowered by an average of 4.2 (SD ± 1.0) and 5.4 (SD ± 0.7) years for males and females, respectively. Among people with an HCV notification, an increasing proportion of deaths are liver-related. Following removal of drug-related mortality, life expectancy in this population remained considerably lower, compared with the general population.