(HealthDay News) — Many hepatitis C patients get “lost” in the U.S. health care system, according to a study published in Hepatology.

Researchers looked at data from 13,596 people in Philadelphia who tested positive for hepatitis C virus between January 2010 and December 2013. During that time, just 27% of the patients were in care and 15% had been treated or were receiving treatment, the study authors found.

“Our findings show that many hepatitis C virus patients are lost at each stage of the health care continuum from screening to disease confirmation to care and treatment,” Kendra Viner, PhD, MPH, of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said in a journal news release.

“The fact that so few patients with hepatitis C virus are making it to treatment underscores the need to build awareness among at-risk groups of the importance of screening and continued care,” Viner said. “It is critical that public health officials and clinicians understand why patients are lost at each stage so that changes can be made to improve care.”

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