Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has skipped a generation and become a predominantly millennial disease, according to research by John Myers, Ph.D., UofL Professor of Pediatrics.
Myers and his team screened 82,243 individuals for HCV infection in 2016-2018 in Norton Healthcare in order to assess trends in a large health care system in an area with a high prevalence of opioid use and HCV infection. The investigators defined millennials as individuals born between 1980 and 1995, and baby boomers were those born between 1945 and 1965.
Traditionally, baby boomers were the largest drivers of HCV, though millennials have been shown in previous research to be the fastest-growing population of those infected with the virus. However, those studies were performed at single institutions with small sample sizes.
Millennials who were HCV-positive increased by 53 percent over the study period while the population of HCV-positive individuals among baby boomers decreased by 32 percent.
“The opioid crisis has led to a drastic demographic shift, and currently the typical HCV-infected individual is a younger male. Without interventions, this trend will continue for upwards of seven years, plateauing near the demarcation of millennials and generation Z.” Myers said.
The data were presented Oct. 3 in Washington at IDWeek, the combined medical meeting of four adult and pediatric infectious disease societies.