Division of Viral Hepatitis, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW:
This review highlights key studies and recently published data, policies, and recommendations related to hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemiology, transmission, and treatment.
HCV is a leading cause of liver-related deaths, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Since 2011 and accelerating since 2013, new, safe, tolerable, and curative therapies have considerably altered clinical and public health frameworks related to the prevention, control and clinical management of HCV. Nevertheless, there are several populations in the United States that are important to consider because of disparities in HCV prevalence and transmission risk. Adults born during 1945-1965 have an estimated anti-HCV antibody prevalence of ~3%, which is six times higher than among other adults, are often unaware of their infections, and are at increased risk of having HCV-associated morbidity and mortality from decades of chronic infection. Since the early 2000s, increasing incidence of acute HCV infections among young, white, non-urban people who inject drugs have been reported. Despite promising therapeutic advances, significant challenges remain for reducing HCV-associated morbidity and mortality.
The high burden of HCV and significant health consequences associated with chronic infection make HCV a critical public health priority. Advances in HCV treatment have created new opportunities for reducing HCV-associated morbidity and mortality. These treatments are safe, well-tolerated, and highly effective; however, benefits cannot be realized without a significant increase in the number of persons tested for HCV so that all chronically infected individuals can be aware of their diagnosis and linked to appropriate clinical care.