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Focus on Hepatitis C

December 12th, 2010

By jeremy.engdahl-johnson

The Concord Monitor is running a series on hepatitis C (HCV) . A first-person article written by a carrier and published today frames the challenge:

HCV is often called “the silent epidemic” because many carriers have no idea they’re infected, and most people have never heard of the disease. But silent doesn’t mean benign. Left untreated, it can cause serious liver damage and liver cancer, and it is the leading cause of liver transplant in this country. It kills about 10,000 Americans a year, and the National Foundation for Infectious Disease predicts that number will triple in the next 20 years as more and more carriers reach end-stage liver disease.

The economic costs are staggering, too. A report released last year by the actuarial firm Milliman Inc. estimates that HCV patients in the U.S. require about $30 billion in medical care annually. The price tag will grow over the next two decades, according to the study, costing public and private health insurers $85 billion a year by 2027. Because the majority of HCV-positive Americans are baby boomers, Medicare will be responsible for nearly half the bill.

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