BACKGROUND & AIMS:
We measured the timing of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) diagnoses relative to the detection of decompensated cirrhosis (DC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) as an indicator of late hepatitis diagnosis.
HBV and HCV diagnoses were defined relative to the diagnosis of DC or HCC such that HBV/HCV diagnoses within two years prior, at the time of or after HCC or DC diagnosis were considered late. We performed multivariable logistic regression to assess factors associated with late HBV/HCV diagnoses among those with DC or HCC.
From 1990 to 2012, 778/32,664 HBV cases (2.4%) and 3,925/57,866 HCV cases (6.8%) developed DC while 628/32,644 HBV cases (1.9%) and 902/57,866 HCV cases (1.6%) developed HCC. Among HBV and HCV cases with DC, 49% and 40% respectively were late diagnoses, as were 46% and 31% of HBV and HCV cases with HCC, respectively. HBV late diagnosis declined from 100% in 1992 to 11% and 26% in 2011, while HCV late diagnosis declined from 100% in 1992 to 16% and 14% in 2011 for DC and HCC respectively. In multivariable modelling, late HBV diagnosis was associated with mental illness and a fewer number of physician visits in the five years prior to HBV diagnosis. Late HCV diagnosis was also associated with fewer physician visits, while those with illicit drug use were less likely to be diagnosed late.
The proportion of late diagnoses has declined over time. People with better engagement with the healthcare system and with risk activities were diagnosed earlier. Lay summary: Late diagnosis of HBV and HCV represents a missed opportunity to reduce the risk of serious liver disease. Our results identify successes in earlier diagnosis over time using risk-based testing as well as groups that are being missed for screening such as those who do not see a physician regularly and those with serious mental illness.