What is hepatitis C (HCV) infection?

Updated: Jul 14, 2021
  • Author: Joel Schifter, MD; Chief Editor: Eric B Staros, MD  more...
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States; it is also one of the leading known causes of liver disease in the United States. [4]

It is estimated that over 70 million people worldwide have chronic HCV infection, with an estimated 399,000 deaths attributed to hepatitis C in 2016. [5]  Infection with HCV is a common cause of both acute and chronic liver disease; it is frequently a silent disease with few clinical manifestations; however, chronic hepatitis C is a common cause of cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and hepatocellular carcinoma. In the United States, it is the single major cause of chronic liver disease hence the principal reason for liver transplantation in adults. [6]

Hepatits C virus is a single-stranded positive-sense RNA virus; it is classified in the family of Flaviviridae on hepacivirus genus. Six major genotypes have been identified. [6]

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