The epidemiology and natural history of hepatitis C virus infection

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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States. HCV infection is generally benign in its acute stage but tends to become chronic in more than 70% of patients, at which stage it can induce liver cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Approximately 2.7 million Americans are estimated to have chronic HCV infection. Although the incidence of HCV infection is believed to be falling, the prevalence of HCV-related liver disease is rising. Better identification of risk factors for HCV transmission and improved understanding of the infection's natural history should refine measures for preventing the spread of infection and preventing complications in those infected.


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