By: Marcus J. Hopkins, Blogger
“Hepatitis C Kills More Americans than Any Other Infectious Disease.”
It’s hard to understate a headline like that. Sadly, it’s a headline that will likely be overlooked by the vast majority of Americans, inundated as we are by news concerning celebrities, primary politics, and whichever athlete’s scandal has made the front pages of America. It is, however, a headline that should be heeded, because it confirms what we, at the HEAL Coalition, have been trumpeting all along: we are in the midst of a burgeoning epidemic of deadly consequence.
Last Wednesday’s press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was covered in several respected publications, but it was difficult to spot, given the post-Indiana Primary hullabaloo. That Hepatitis C (HCV) deaths in 2013 surpassed the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases reported to the CDC – including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis – has not been brought to the forefront of any of these political debates as it relates to funding boggles the mind in a world where we’ve had over thirty-five years to come to grips with, fund, address, and largely stem the tide of HIV in the U.S. This should be front page news; there should be cameras and benefit concerts; where is HCV’s big name celebrity face-of-the-disease!
The truth, however, is that HCV is the new HIV, in terms of national import and sheer mortality of the disease. While current figures for 2014 exist, the most current comparable information for both diseases is from 2013:
- HIV Deaths – 6,955
- HCV Deaths – 19,368 (†Current information indicates these represent a fraction of deaths attributable in whole or in part to chronic hepatitis C)
This disparity in deaths is staggering, especially when you take into account the fact that, unlike HIV, Hepatitis C is effectively curable (defined as achieving a Sustained Virologic Response [SVR]). Beyond sheer mortality rates, HCV has exponentially higher rates of transmission than HIV, the latter of which has plateaued at roughly 50,000 new cases annually in the U.S. for nearly a decade. And yet, despite the clearly more pressing need to address the widespread HCV crisis, HIV funding for FY 2016 stands at around $42.827 billion.
To break that last figure down into comparable numbers:
- HIV CDC Domestic Prevention (& Research) funding for FY 2016 – $799.4 million
- HCV CDC Division of Viral Hepatitis funding for FY 2016 – $63 million
Not only do HCV infection and mortality rates vastly outstrip those of HIV, but the amount of funding for prevention and research is less than a tenth of the funds allocated for HIV, despite being both more virulent and curable. It is clear that additional funding for HCV-related prevention, research, and treatment is desperately needed.
To download the CDC report, CLICK HERE.
Disclaimer: HEAL Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community Access National Network (CANN), but rather they provide a neutral platform whereby the author serves to promote open, honest discussion about Hepatitis-related issues and updates. Please note that the content of some of the HEAL Blogs might be graphic due to the nature of the issues being addressed in it.