How does the prevalence of hepatitis C (Hep C) vary by age?

Updated: Mar 26, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Of individuals positive for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies, 65% are aged 30-49 years. Younger age at infection often relates to lesser consequences of the infection. Infection is uncommon in persons aged 20 years and younger and is more prevalent in persons older than 40 years. [32, 33] Data suggest the presence of age-related methods of infection, such as nonsterile medical procedures, including vaccination and parenteral drug treatment. [34]

In August 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded their existing, risk-based testing guidelines to recommend a 1-time blood test for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in baby boomers—the generation born between 1945 and 1965, who account for approximately three fourths of all chronic HCV infections in the United States—without prior ascertainment of HCV risk (see Recommendations for the Identification of Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Persons Born During 1945–1965). [35] One-time HCV testing in this population could identify nearly 808,600 additional people with chronic infection. All individuals identified with HCV should be screened and/or managed for alcohol abuse, followed by referral to preventative and/or treatment services, as appropriate.

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