Hepatitis C Cases Increase More Than 3-Fold in Iowa

The Iowa Department of Public Health released its first report on hepatitis C virus.

A new report by the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reveals a 3-fold increase in hepatitis C virus (HCV) cases in Iowa since 2000. However, Randy Mayer, chief of the IDPH Bureau of HIV, STD, and Hepatitis, said the increase is expected and considered a positive sign.

“These data indicate that Iowans are getting tested and referred to treatment by their medical providers,” Mayer told Outbreak News Today. “Everyone born between 1945 and 1965 and anyone who has ever injected non-prescription drugs, even once, should be tested for hepatitis C.”

The results of the analysis showed that between 2000 and 2015, the number of Iowans diagnosed with HCV increased from 754 cases in 2000 to 2235 cases in 2015. Among individuals aged 18 to 30 years, the number of HCV diagnoses more than quadrupled since 2009, with 303 diagnoses in 2015.

It is important to note that many individuals with HCV are asymptomatic, which results in them not getting tested or receiving a diagnosis. Therefore, the number of Iowans with HCV is likely higher than the report indicates, Outbreak News Today reported.

The CDC recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 speak with their physician about being tested for HCV. The IDPH reports that the CDC recommendations are in line with their findings, which showed that 63% of Iowans with HCV were aged 45 to 64, according to Outbreak News Today.

More than 55% of Iowans with HCV who are aged 18 to 64 reportedly lived in 1 of 6 counties: Black Hawk, Linn, Polk, Pottawattamie, Scott, and Woodbury.

In addition to the CDC recommendations of individuals born between 1945 and 1965 be tested, the agency also advises testing for individuals who have injected drugs, even if it was only once or many years ago; were treated for a blood clotting issue before 1987; received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992; are only long-term hemodialysis; have abnormal liver tests or liver disease; work in health care or public safety and were exposed to blood from a needle stick or any other sharp object related injury; and those who are infected with HIV.