What is the significance of Hepatitis C?
Viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis C, is currently
the most prevalent infectious disease in the U.S. It is
estimated that more than 4.5 million Americans have been
infected with hepatitis C and more than 30,000 new cases
are diagnosed each year.
diagnosis methods are:
ELISA assay to detect Hepatitis C antibody
HCV RNA C PCR test
- Liver enzymes
shows chronic inflammation
Hepatitis C genotype. Six genotypes are present
around the world. Most Americans have genotype 1
infection, which has lower response rates to
Interferon based treatments.
C is an insidious and stealthy virus that mutates while
hiding within liver and other organ cells, making it
very difficult for the body's immune system to eradicate
it. Additionally, hepatitis C tends to progress slowly
over many years , resulting in as many as 74% to 85% of
infected patients having few noticeable symptoms until
they reach an advanced chronic stage. Hepatitis C
results in 8,000 to 10,000 deaths annually. It is also
the leading cause for liver transplants in the U.S.
Without effective treatment, this figure is expected to
triple within the next 10 to 20 years.
As the disease progresses, blood tests indicate elevated
liver enzyme levels (ALT, AST), which are indicative of
liver damage and inflammation. As the course of the
disease gradually disrupts crucial liver functions, it
progresses to cirrhosis in about 15%-25% of patients. A
small percentage among these cases may progress to
hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of primary liver
Although the severity of hepatitis C is much less than
HIV infection, four times as many people are infected
with HCV than HIV. The course of disease progression can
take several decades, which allows considerable time for
proper treatment and disease management.
Proper treatment, lifestyle, diet, abstinence from
alcohol and stress management are key factors in
mitigating disease progression.