Hepatitis C, a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus


Kolkata, Nov 1 : Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis, 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 exposure to small quantities of blood.
This may happen through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection.A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.Approximately 399 000 people die each year from hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 per cent 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 (if ever) associated with life-threatening disease.
About 15–45 per cent of infected persons spontaneously clear the virus within 6 months of infection without any treatment.The remaining 60–80 per cent 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.Hepatitis C is found worldwide.
The most affected regions are WHO Eastern Mediterranean and European Regions, with the prevalence of 2.3 and 1.5 per cent respectively.
Prevalence of HCV infection in other WHO regions varies from 0.
5 to 1.0 per cent.