Hepatitis C Facts

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What IS Hepatitis C virus?

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. For some people, hepatitis C is a short-term illness but for 70%–85% of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, even death. Many people might not be aware of their infection because they are not clinically ill. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

  • There is no vaccine for HCV, BUT THERE IS A CURE!
  • The Hepatitis C Crisis — it is the most common, chronic blood-borne viral infection in the U.S.
  • Globally, an estimated 325 million people have chronic hepatitis virus infection.
  • In 2019, a total of 4,136 cases of acute hepatitis C were reported to CDC. Since many people may not have symptoms or don’t know they are infected, their illness is often not diagnosed or reported and therefore can’t be counted. CDC estimates the actual number of acute hepatitis C cases was closer to 57,500 in 2019.
  • If you have been infected with HCV and have cleared the virus, or have been successfully treated and cured, you can be re-infected with the hepatitis C virus. Additionally, you will ALWAYS test positive for HCV antibodies because of exposure, clearance, or cure.
  • At least half of infected individuals are unaware of their status.
  • Up to 85% of people infected with HCV will develop chronic infection.
  • As many as 20% of infected individuals will develop cirrhosis, a serious liver condition.
  • Up to 5% of infected individuals will develop liver cancer.
  • There is a simple blood test for HCV—early detection helps halt spread of the disease and saves lives. Ask your doctor for this simple test.

CDC now recommends one-time hepatitis C testing of all adults (18 years and older) and all pregnant women during every pregnancy.
CDC continues to recommend people with risk factors, including people who inject drugs, be tested regularly.