Resource Logo
CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

Third Millennium Challenge: Hepatitis C


Journal of the American Medical Association (07/21/99) Vol.

An estimated 4 million people in the United States and 202 million people worldwide may carry the hepatitis C virus (HCV). As such, HCV will likely be a serious public health threat well into the 21st century. HCV is the leading cause of liver transplants in the United States, and it causes cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The virus is usually asymptomatic for years, so many do not know they are infected until after they have sustained irreparable liver damage. Experts are unsure whether all who are infected with HCV will develop a progressive disease. HCV, which has proven difficult to study because it does not grow well in laboratories, is a positive single-stranded RNA with six different genotypes and 100 subtypes. A single patient may have many closely-related but distinct viral variants, called quasispecies. Quasispecies may elude the body's immune surveillance, worsening chronic infections and causing a lack of immunity after infection. Quasispecies may also be associated with the progression of HCV and may influence treatment. High risk factors for HCV include blood transfusions or blood products given before 1990, intravenous drug use, and multiple sex partners.


Copyright © 1999 -CDC Prevention News Update, Publisher. All rights reserved to Information, Inc., Bethesda, MD. The CDC National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention provides the following information as a public service only. Providing synopses of key scientific articles and lay media reports on HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis does not constitute CDC endorsement. This daily update also includes information from CDC and other government agencies, such as background on Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) articles, fact sheets, press releases and announcements. Reproduction of this text is encouraged; however, copies may not be sold, and the CDC HIV/STD/TB Prevention News Update should be cited as the source of the information. Contact the sources of the articles abstracted below for full texts of the articles.

Information in this article was accurate in July 27, 1999. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.