What is Hepatitis C?
- 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.
- 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.