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Many angry at hepatitis joke in movie

NEW YORK, July 2 (UPI) -- Many with hepatitis C are angry at what they call an insensitive joke about the disease in the U.S. movie "Bewitched," said the American Liver Foundation.

In the film, one character discourages romantic advances from another character, saying she has hepatitis C.

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"Tragically, this remarkably tasteless comment plays into the stigma that many people with hepatitis C have to cope with every single day," Frederick G. Thompson, president and chief executive officer of the American Liver Foundation, said in a statement.

"I can't imagine anyone in Hollywood making a joke about HIV infection, for example," said Thompson, "but because the public is so uneducated about hepatitis C, it apparently seems acceptable to trivialize the disease in a comedic context, at the expense of millions of hepatitis sufferers."

The New York-based American Liver Foundation said it has received hundreds of calls and e-mails from moviegoers expressing outrage and dismay, according to Thompson.

Some 4 million people in the United States have been infected with hepatitis C, and 2.7 million of them are chronically infected.

About 10,000 people die each year from complications of hepatitis C.

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