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Deaths from Hepatitis C Increased in Last Decade

Hepatitis C is a major cause of premature mortality

THURSDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- Deaths due to hepatitis C have increased substantially between 1995 and 2004, and while the rate has declined slightly in recent years, it has continued to rise among individuals aged 55 to 64, according to an article published in the April issue of Hepatology.

Matthew Wise, of the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed trends in hepatitis C mortality using U.S. Census and multiple-cause-of-death data for the period 1995-2004. Deaths were considered hepatitis C-related if hepatitis C was identified as the cause of death, or if the cause of death was chronic liver disease or HIV with hepatitis C contributing.

The researchers identified a total of 56,409 hepatitis C-related deaths. Mortality rates climbed by 123 percent during the study period, with the rate peaking in 2002. While the mortality rate declined slightly in the remaining years, mortality continued to rise among individuals aged 55 to 64 years. In 2004, the highest mortality rates were seen among males and racial/ethnic minorities.

"The relatively young age of persons dying from hepatitis C-related liver disease has made hepatitis C-related disease a leading infectious cause of years of potential life lost as well as an important cause of premature mortality overall," the authors write.

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