What is Hepatitis C?1
Hepatitis C, or Hep C, is a disease caused by a blood-borne virus, Hepatitis C virus (HCV), that primarily affects the liver.
There are a number of ways in which a person might have come into contact with the virus without knowing. It is most commonly transmitted through unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, unscreened blood transfusions and sexual practices that lead to exposure to blood.
Around 30% of Hep C infections are acute and will clear on their own without treatment. People with an acute Hep C infection may not show any obvious symptoms at the time of infection. A long-term infection is called chronic Hep C and is defined as having the virus for more than 6 months.
People living with Hep C may be unaware they are infected as not everyone with Hep C will experience symptoms. Therefore, early diagnosis, confirmed by a blood test, is important to prevent further health problems.
Current treatment options for chronic Hep C include oral medications which can cure the virus in the majority of people, however, access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
The World Health Organization is working to eliminate Hep C by increasing awareness and supporting the scaling up of screening, care and treatment services worldwide.
*Elimination defined by the World Health Organization as achieving 90% reduction in new chronic infections and a 65% reduction in mortality due to viral hepatitis, compared with the 2015 baseline.1
- The World Health Organization (WHO). Hepatitis C. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hepatitis-c (accessed August 2022).
- All-Party Parliamentary Group on Liver Health Inquiry Report. Eliminating Hepatitis C in England. March 2018. Available at: www.appghep.org.uk/reports/ (accessed August 2022).
- Scottish Government. Eliminating hepatitis C. 31 July 2019. Available at: www.gov.scot/news/eliminating-hepatitis-c/ (accessed August 2022).
UK-MAVI-220006. Date of preparation: August 2022