In recognition of World Hepatitis Day, the National Minority Quality Forum today launched the Hepatitis C Index, a novel resource for mapping hepatitis C (http://www.maphepc.com).
For the first time, healthcare practitioners, policy makers, advocacy groups, and researchers will be able to quantify and map hepatitis C (HCV) prevalence and total counts at the zip code level for the United States as well as for individual states, counties, metropolitan statistical areas, and federal and state legislative districts. In addition, the index maps HCV by age, gender and race/ethnicity. Index users may generate color-coded maps of hepatitis C prevalence, total counts and hospitalizations rates for downloading, printing, and dissemination to support educational and advocacy initiatives.
''Identifying where hepatitis C is most prevalent may encourage early screening and surveillance efforts and help to realize our national goal of prevention and control of HCV infections in the United States," says Charles Howell, MD, director of hepatology research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
Hepatitis C prevalence disproportionately affects blacks (2.7 percent) versus whites (1.4 percent), and is highest among the 40-64 age group (3.1 percent); the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas are ranked one to three for total HCV infections (source: Hepatitis C Index).
"Hepatitis C has infected nearly 4 million persons in the United States; almost 20 percent of HCV patients are hospitalized annually, resulting in a tremendous burden on our U.S. healthcare system. These data derived from the Hepatitis C Index serve as a reminder that the need exists for improved HCV surveillance, and better targeting of HCV services to remedy this healthcare problem," notes Gary Puckrein, PhD, CEO of the National Minority Quality Forum.
The Hepatitis C Index was developed with financial support from Vertex Pharmaceuticals.