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23. Incidence of Reported Acute Hepatitis C, 1982-2001

More important is the issue of incidence, and there has been a dramatic drop in incidence of hepatitis C - and most of this data come from our sentinel county study of acute viral hepatitis, through which we really had the only information from back in the 80s and early 90s. But now you see that nationally reported data from that states is matching our sentinel estimates. So I think we have reasonable indicators of what is happening nationally, and this is what translates into the 25-35,000 new infections a year. We actually don't know what has caused all of this decline; we have some ideas. It was not the fact that blood screening came into play, but probably had to do with dynamics of hepatitis C virus infection in injection drug user populations, which is where most of this disease is acquired.