Burden of disease related to hepatitis C and hepatitis B in Spain: a methodological challenge of an unfolding health problem

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SUMMARY.Most previous studies of burden of disease (BoD) in the area of transmissible diseases have assessed the burden of hepatitis C and B without including the end stages of the disease and using an incident approach. We aimed to assess the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) related to hepatitis C and B in Spain in 2006 taking into account related cirrhosis and liver cancer. A prevalence approach was used to estimate current years lived with disability (YLD) because of viral hepatitis contracted years/decades before. We added years of life lost (YLL) to obtain DALYs. Around 76 000 DALYs were attributed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and 15 323 to hepatitis B virus (HBV) when calculated without applying social values. Applying the discount rate and age-weighting used in the Global Burden Disease study, the BoD nearly halved. In any case, the burden related to hepatitis C including long-term outputs becomes the leading cause of DALYs among transmissible diseases in Spain. The mortality component (YLL) represents more than 90% of the BoD in both HCV and HBV. The findings emphasize the need to provide good surveillance systems not only concerning acute viral hepatitis, but also chronic and end-stage consequences to allow a reliable assessment of the prevention and public health control policies.

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