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August 23/30, 2016

The Need to Expand Access to Hepatitis C Virus Drugs in the Indian Health Service

Author Affiliations
  • 1HIV/HCV Clinical Program, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Portland, Oregon
  • 2Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Portland, Oregon
JAMA. 2016;316(8):817-818. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.7186

The American Indian/Native Alaska population is disproportionately affected by hepatitis C virus (HCV). The most recent national data show American Indian/Alaska Native people with both the highest rate of acute HCV infection and the highest HCV-related mortality rate of any US racial/ethnic group.1 In 2013, the latest national data available, rates of acute HCV infection were 1.7 per 100 000 American Indian/Alaska Native persons.1 From 2009 through 2013, their HCV-related mortality rate increased by 23.2%, accounting for 324 deaths in 2013.1 The American Indian/Alaska Native mortality rate of 12.2 deaths per100 000 population is more than double the national rate of 5.0 per 100 000.1 Although prevalence data are limited, one national study estimates 120 000 persons living on Indian reservations are positive for the HCV antibody.2 Another study has shown American Indian/Alaska Native veterans born from 1945 to 1965 have an antibody-positive seroprevalence of 10%.3

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