Shelagh M. Szabo, Jennifer C. Samp, David R. Walker, Suzanne Lane, Stephanie K. Cline, Katherine L. Gooch, Ricardo Jiménez-Méndez, Adrian R. Levy
Despite reports that mortality is increasing, overall case fatality due to hepatitis C virus (HCV) is thought to be low. Given the variability in published rates, we aimed to synthesize estimates of liver-specific case fatality and all-cause mortality in chronic HCV according to follow-up duration, sustained viral response (SVR) to treatment, and liver disease severity. A systematic review was conducted of studies published in English from 2003 to 2013, reporting liver-specific case fatality estimates from HCV-infected samples. Thirty-five eligible articles were identified; 26 also presented estimates of all-cause mortality. Among community-based samples, liver-specific case fatality ranged from 0.3% over 5.7 years to 9.2% over 8.2 years of follow-up; and of all-cause mortality, from 4.0% over 5.7 years, to 23.0% over 8.2 years of follow-up. Estimates were higher among clinic-based samples and those with more severe liver disease. Among treated patients achieving SVR, liver-specific case fatality was low: up to 1.4% over 11.5 years of follow-up among samples with any severity of liver disease. Estimates were higher among those without SVR: up to 14.0% over 10 years of followup among samples with any severity of liver disease, and higher still among samples with more severe liver disease. The proportion of deaths attributable to liver-specific causes ranged from 55 to 85% among those with severe liver disease. Published estimates of fatality are high among certain populations of chronic HCV patients, with liver-specific causes being an important contributor. Understanding current HCV mortality rates is important for quantifying the total burden of HCV disease.
Key words. Mortality., HCV., Evidence synthesis., Correspondence.