Current Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C

Emmet B. Keeffe, MD, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, California

April 01, 2002

In This Article


Chronic hepatitis C is a major public health problem in the United States and worldwide.[1,2] In the United States, 1.8% (3.9 million) of adults have detectable anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody, and 74% of these (2.7 million) are viremic with detectable serum HCV RNA.[2] An estimated 170 million individuals are infected worldwide. Data from population-based studies demonstrate that chronic HCV infection accounts for 40% of chronic liver disease and results in an estimated 8000-10,000 deaths annually in the United States.[1,2] Likely only 20% to 30% of all infected individuals have been identified, leaving a large undiagnosed reservoir of predominantly adult-aged persons. Progression to cirrhosis occurs in 20% or more cases within 2 decades of infection, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) may develop after 3 decades. Once cirrhosis is present, the incidence rate of HCC is 2% to 5% per year.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.