- Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
- The hepatitis C virus is a bloodborne virus and the most common modes of infection are through unsafe injection practices, inadequate sterilization of medical equipment, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
- Globally, between 130–150 million people globally have chronic hepatitis C infection.
- A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
- Approximately 700 000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver diseases.
- Antiviral medicines can cure approximately 90% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
- There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C; however research in this area is ongoing.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes both acute and chronic infection. Acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic, and is only very rarely associated with life-threatening disease.
About 15–45% of infected persons spontaneously clear the virus within 6 months of infection without any treatment.
The remaining 55–85% of persons will develop chronic HCV infection. Of those with chronic HCV infection, the risk of cirrhosis of the liver is between 15–30% within 20 years.
See reference for more information.
World Health Organization. Hepatitis C. Fact sheet updated July 2016. Internet. Accessed on July 16, 2016.