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Interferon-α for Chronic Hepatitis C: Reducing the Uncertainties

Raymond S. Koff, MD
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Columbia MetroWest Medical Center; Framingham, MA 01702 Requests for Reprints: Raymond S. Koff, MD, Department of Medicine, Columbia MetroWest Medical Center, 115 Lincoln Street, Framingham, MA 01702.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1997;127(10):918-920. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-127-10-199711150-00011
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Acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, recently ranked 10th among notifiable infectious diseases in the United States, is anticipated to affect approximately 30 000 persons in the United States in 1997 [1]. Yet, with nearly 4 million persons estimated to have persistent infection, the prevalence of chronic hepatitis C now exceeds that of alcoholic liver disease. Each year, as many as 12 000 deaths may be attributable to chronic HCV infection. The cumulative societal and health care cost burdens associated with this disease now loom large and are likely to increase dramatically during the next two decades as the population with the highest current prevalence of infection (persons 30 to 39 years of age) grows older and the disease progresses. Immunoprophylaxis of HCV infection will not be available soon; even if it were available, however, it would not alter this gloomy prediction. Only effective treatment of persons with established infection is likely to reduce the current and projected morbidity and mortality of chronic hepatitis C.

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