Fact sheet N°164
Updated April 2014 WHO
- Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus: the virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infection, 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 unsafe injection practices; inadequate sterilization of medical equipment in some health-care settings; and unscreened blood and blood products.
- 130–150 million people globally have chronic hepatitis C infection.
- A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop liver cirrhosis or liver cancer.
- 350 000 to 500 000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver diseases.
- Antiviral medicines can cure hepatitis C infection, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
- Antiviral treatment is successful in 50–90% of persons treated, depending on the treatment used, and has also been shown to reduce the development of liver cancer and cirrhosis.
- There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C, however research in this area is ongoing.
The remaining 55–85% of persons will develop chronic HCV infection. Of those with chronic HCV infection, the risk of cirrhosis of the liver is 15–30% within 20 years. Read More