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Articles » Facts About Hepatitis C: CDC-OC

Facts About Hepatitis C: CDC-OC

Article title: Facts About Hepatitis C: CDC-OC

Conditions: Hepatitis C

Source: CDC-OC

Facts About Hepatitis C

October 31, 1998
Contact: Media Relations Division
(404) 639­3286

  • Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States. Approximately 3.9 million (1.8%) persons in the United States are infected with HCV. About 7% of these may have acquired their infection from blood transfusion.
  • During the 1980s, an estimated 230,000 new HCV infections occurred each year. Since then, the annual number of new infections has declined by >80% to an estimated 36,000 in 1996. Most of this decline was due to a decrease in cases among injection drug users.
  • Chronic liver disease is the tenth leading cause of death among adults in the United States. Studies indicate 40% to 60% of this disease is related to HCV, resulting in 8,000 to 10,000 deaths each year.
  • Costs due to HCV disease are estimated to exceed $600 million annually.
  • Often those infected with HCV have no symptoms. Chronic liver disease progresses at a slow rate without symptoms during the first two or more decades after infection.
  • HCV infection occurs among all age groups. In the general population, about 60% of the HCV infections are among persons 30 to 49 years of age.
  • Injecting drug use currently accounts for 60% of HCV infections in the United States.
  • Many persons with chronic HCV infection might have become infected 20 to 30 years ago as a result of limited or occasional illegal drug injecting.
  • Sexual exposures (infected partner or multiple partners) might account for up to 20% of HCV transmission.
  • Other known exposures (occupational, hemodialysis, perinatal) together account for about 10% of infections.
  • Only 10% of persons with hepatitis C report no recognized source for their infection.
  • HCV is not spread by sneezing, hugging, coughing, breast feeding, food or water, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, or casual contact. Tattooing and body piercing are not associated with HCV infection.
  • There is no vaccine against hepatitis C.

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