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Rural–Urban Residence and Maternal Hepatitis C Infection, U.S.: 2010–2018

Published:February 24, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2020.12.020

      Introduction

      The prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection among women delivering live births in the U.S. may be higher in rural areas where county-level estimates may be unreliable. The aim of this study is to model county-level maternal hepatitis C virus infection among deliveries in the U.S.

      Methods

      In 2020, U.S. natality files (2010–2018) with county-level maternal residence information were used from states that had adopted the 2003 revised U.S. birth certificate, which included a field for hepatitis C virus infection present during pregnancy. Hierarchical Bayesian spatial models with spatiotemporal random effects were applied to produce stable annual county-level estimates of maternal hepatitis C virus infection for years when all states had adopted the revised birth certificate (2016–2018). Models included a 6-Level Urban–Rural County Classification Scheme along with the birth year and county-specific covariates to improve posterior predictions.

      Results

      Among approximately 32 million live births, the overall prevalence of maternal hepatitis C virus infection was 3.5 per 1,000 births (increased from 2.0 in 2010 to 5.0 in 2018). During 2016–2018, posterior predicted median county-level maternal hepatitis C virus infection rates showed that nonurban counties had 3.5–3.8 times higher rates of hepatitis C virus than large central metropolitan counties. The counties in the top 10th percentile for maternal hepatitis C virus rates in 2018 were generally located in Appalachia, in Northern New England, along the northern border in the Upper Midwest, and in New Mexico.

      Conclusions

      Further implementation of community-level interventions that are effective in reducing maternal hepatitis C virus infection and its subsequent morbidity may help to reduce geographic and rural disparities.
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