Hepatitis C : An Infectious Disease

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Hepatitis C is an infectious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, or HCV. The virus is transmitted through bodily fluids and it has been estimated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that between 170 and 200 million people are infected worldwide, and 3 to 5 million people are infected in the U.S., the epidemic is far more widespread in Africa and central Asia. The disease kills approximately 350,000 people a year worldwide and 15,000 people a year in the U.S. The disease can be asymptomatic, cause acute inflammation of the liver, or become chronic hepatitis C and lead to more serious conditions like liver cancer or cirrhosis. Treatments in the past have not always been effective and have sometimes caused serious side effects, but this is changing. Recently new drugs have been developed which can effectively cure all genotypes of HCV. (World Health Organization) The word hepatitis means inflammation of the liver, and viruses which infect the liver are called hepatitis viruses. Hepatitis C was first distinguished in 1975, after Hepatitis A and B had already been recognized (Bukh, 2016). It was noted that the majority of patients receiving transfusions as treatment for hepatitis were non-A non-B positive. The first isolated molecular clone of HCV was produced in 1989, confirming that it was a completely different virus than hepatitis A or B (Houghton, 2009). All three of these types of hepatitis can cause acute infections of the liver, but Hepatitis C is the

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