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American Liver
Foundation urges cautious optimism about CDC report

American Liver
Foundation urges cautious optimism about CDC report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there has been a significant decline in the rates of new acute hepatitis infections over the last 10 years in the United States. This decline is due in part to hepatitis A and B vaccination programs.

The American Liver Foundation finds this news promising, but is urging people to remember that chronic hepatitis B and C affect more than 5 million Americans and that hepatitis C rates are actually on the rise. There are vaccines for hepatitis A and B but not for C. Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States, and almost 4 million Americans are infected with it.

Acute or short-term infections more commonly occur with hepatitis A and B and are less likely to cause long-term illness. However, those exposed to hepatitis C have a 70%-80% chronic infection rate. A 2002 study showed the medical costs for people with hepatitis C are $15 billion annually. The study predicts that if current rates do not drop significantly, the projected direct and indirect health care costs for the period 2010-2019 will be $85 billion. (The Advocate)

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