Which patient groups have the highest prevalence of hepatitis C?

Updated: May 10, 2019
  • Author: Nicholas John Bennett, MBBCh, PhD, MA(Cantab), FAAP; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Answer

With respect to the frequency of infection worldwide, significant racial differences are observed. In the United States, infection is more common among members of minority populations than in other groups. The effect of ethnic background on the risk of significant liver disease is undefined, but patients of African descent do not respond as well to therapy.

Hepatitis C virus infection is far more common in males than in females. Females have been reported to have a higher rate of infection from blood product transfusions and a lower rate from intravenous drug and alcohol abuse compared with males. Females may have less evidence of liver damage (liver enzyme levels, fibrosis) and high rates of spontaneous viral clearance. [3]

In the United States, the highest incidence is among individuals aged 20-39 years, and the highest prevalence is among those aged 30-49 years. The age at time of initial infection likely has important implications on the natural history of infection because individuals who are infected at a younger age tend to have a decreased risk of progression to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.


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