About Hepatitis C

A serious health issue facing our country today is a silent and potentially deadly chronic liver disease called hepatitis C. Up to 5 million Americans have hepatitis C — five times the number of people with HIV — and it is the leading cause of liver failure, liver cancer and the need for a liver transplant in the U.S.

What’s more surprising is that 75 percent of people with hepatitis C don’t know they have it, because it often has no symptoms and can go decades without being detected while the disease slowly destroys the liver. Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.

Those at risk for hepatitis C include:

  • People who had blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992.
  • People with tattoos or body piercings.
  • People who used intravenous drugs even once.
  • People who work in a health-care setting.
  • People with HIV.

Certain groups have a greater prevalence of hepatitis C than the general population:

  • People born from 1945 through 1965, or baby boomers, make up two-thirds of people with the disease, and 75 percent of the deaths from hepatitis C occur in this group.
  • African Americans and Hispanics are also affected by hepatitis C at a significantly higher rate than the general population.

But there is good news. For many patients, hepatitis C, unlike many other infectious diseases, can be cured, and there are FDA approved treatments available for the disease.

Screening for hepatitis C is not currently part of routine testing, so you may think you have been tested, but chances are you have not. Most people who have the disease don’t experience any symptoms, even for decades. If you are a baby boomer or have any of the risk factors listed above, make sure to ask your health-care provider for a simple blood test to screen for hepatitis C at your next appointment.

Learn more about getting tested and download a fact sheet on hepatitis C that you can share with others.

For more information about hepatitis C, visit www.bettertoknowc.com.