An estimated 2.7 million to 3.9 million people are living with hepatitis C in the U.S., the CDC says. "Incidence increased markedly during the 1970s and 1980s, reaching an average of 230,000 new infections each year throughout the 1980s," the agency's guidelines say.
Incidence declined rapidly in the 1990s because of blood donor screening in 1992 and because of reduced new infections among people who inject drugs through 2006.
Since then, numbers have remained stable, "with 17,000 new infections in 2010." However, the guideline warns that many people have been living with hepatitis C for 20 to 40 years, and now "are at increased risk for HCV-related morbidity and mortality."
In fact, hepatitis C-related mortality has increased more than 50% between 1999 and 2007 and now outpaces deaths from HIV.