Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related complications are increasing among women, according to a national cohort study.
Typically, men have a higher risk of progression to liver disease than women because men develop liver disease from HCV at a higher rate than women.
“We found that women had increase of incidence of liver disease at a similar rate to men. Since the mortality rate was lower in women, this suggests that women will have a larger contribution to the overall burden of liver disease in future years,” lead author Jennifer R. Kramer, PhD, investigator with the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety (IQuESt) at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and Department of Medicine in Houston, Texas, told Medical Economics.
The researchers published their results October 12, 2017 in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis.
Kramer, who is also an assistant professor with the Section of Medicine-Health Services Research at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues used Veterans Administration data to identify veterans with positive HCV viremia from January 2000 to December 2013. They calculated the gender-specific annual incidence and prevalence rates of cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer (HCC) adjusting for age, diabetes, HIV and alcohol use. Of the 264,409 HCV-infected veterans, 7,162 (2.7%) were women.
The researchers found statistically significant increases over time in the incidence rates of cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis and HCC for both men and women. The annual-adjusted incidence rates of cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis and HCC were higher in men than women, however, these complications increased at a similar rate in both groups.
“We had thought that perhaps the increase would be greater in women in recent years due to having a slower progression of liver disease and being infected later in the epidemic, but we did not see that,” said Kramer.