1Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Background: Hospitalization burden related to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is substantial. We sought to describe temporal trends in hospitalization rates before and after release of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents.
Methods: We analyzed 2000-2019 data from adults aged ≥18 years in the National Inpatient Sample. Hospitalizations were HCV-related if 1) hepatitis C was the primary diagnosis, or 2) hepatitis C was any secondary diagnosis with a liver-related primary diagnosis. We analyzed characteristics of HCV-related hospitalizations nationally, and examined trends in age-adjusted hospitalization rates.
Results: During 2000-2019, there were an estimated 1,286,397 HCV-related hospitalizations in the United States. The annual age-adjusted hospitalization rate was lowest in 2019 (18.7/100,000 population) and highest in 2012 (29.6/100,000 population). Most hospitalizations occurred among persons aged 45-64 (71.8%), males (67.1%), white non-Hispanic persons (60.5%), and Medicaid/Medicare recipients (64.0%). The national age-adjusted hospitalization rate increased during 2000-2003 (annual percent change [APC] 9.4%, P<.001) and 2003-2013 (APC 1.8%, P<.001) before decreasing during 2013-2019 (APC -7.6%, P<.001). Comparing 2000 to 2019, the largest increases in hospitalization rates occurred among persons aged 55-64 years (132.9%), Medicaid recipients (41.6%), and black non-Hispanic persons (22.3%).
Conclusions: Although multiple factors likely contributed, overall HCV-related hospitalization rates declined steadily after 2013, coinciding with the release of DAAs. However, the declines were not observed equally among age, race/ethnicity, or insurance categories. Expanded access to DAA treatment is needed, particularly among Medicaid and Medicare recipients, to reduce disparities and morbidity, and eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat.