What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease which is diagnosed and treated by the GI Division at Premier Medical Group. Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. It is not a condition, but is often used to refer to a viral infection of the liver. The most common types are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. At least 3.2 million Americans are infected with the Hepatitis C virus. About 2.5 million of them don’t know it. They risk becoming the victims of a silent epidemic.
The virus was first discovered in 1975 but not fully identified until 1989. By then, Hepatitis C had become a global epidemic, as a result of blood transfusions, hemodialysis, and the use of injections to deliver drugs both medicinal and illegal. Nationally, about half of all cases of cirrhosis are the result of chronic HCV infection, as are almost all the cases of primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), and a large proportion of liver failure cases. Currently 12,000 deaths a year in the U.S. are due to Hepatitis C–related disease. Scientists expect that number rise significantly over the next two decades.