What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a spherical, enveloped, single-stranded RNA virus belonging to the family flaviviridae. Discovered in 1989, HCV explained 90 percent of non-A non-B (NANB) cases of hepatitis.
- Hepatitis C virus is the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the United States and the prevalence of Hepatitis C virus infection is increasing worldwide.
- The World Health Organization estimates that more than 170 million individuals throughout the world are infected with HCV.
- The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 3.9 million (1.8 percent) of Americans have been infected with Hepatitis C, of whom 2.7 million are chronically infected.
- Infection due to the Hepatitis C virus accounts for 20 percent of all cases of acute hepatitis, an estimated 25,000 new acute infections and 8,000-12,000 deaths each year in the United States.
- Medical care costs associated with the treatment of HCV infection in the United States are estimated to be more than $600 million per year.
- Although the number of new HCV infections has declined over the last 20 or more years, chronic Hepatitis C is the most common reason that a person will need to undergo a liver transplant in the U.S.
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