Hepatitis A virus (HAV), Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are reportable conditions in the State of West Virginia. From 2010 to 2016, the state has one of the highest rates of HBV and HCV infections in the country. In 2016, there were 268 cases of acute hepatitis B reported; a 288% increase from 2010 (n=93). During the same year, 6,316 incident cases of chronic hepatitis C and 132 cases of acute hepatitis C infections were reported; a 628% increase in acute hepatitis C cases from 2010 (n=21). Many of these cases were from the southern region of the state, between 25 to 49 years old, and reported injection drug use and/or use of street drugs. The rise of HBV and HCV infections can be attributed to a combination of improved surveillance and electronic laboratory reporting, and rising unemployment and substance use in the state.
Starting in 2017, the incidence of acute hepatitis B began to decline. In 2018, the incidence of acute HBV was estimated at 7.2 persons per 100,000 population, while acute HCV infections continue to increase to 10.7 persons per 100,000 population. During the same year, large outbreaks of Hepatitis A infections were reported in the state affecting mostly high-risk (use illicit substances, homeless, incarcerated) individuals. A total of 2,248 cases of HAV infections were reported in 2018 compared with an average of 10 cases per year in the previous years. By 2019, decrease in HAV, acute HBV, and acute HCV infections were observed.
To address the state’s viral hepatitis infections, the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR) is applying for all 3 components (Surveillance and Outbreak Response, Prevention, and Special Projects) of this grant to continue the work with healthcare providers, partners, and organizations to improve viral hepatitis surveillance and investigation activities, outbreak response, and prevention strategies.