HCV (Hepatitis C Virus)
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, or HCV. The disease starts as an acute silent or mild illness. While the disease can spontaneously resolve, it more commonly becomes a chronic, lifelong infection that may be asymptomatic for years, if not decades, before possibly progressing to advanced liver disease. More than 185 million people, or 2.8% of the world’s population, are chronically infected with HCV.5 This revalence varies considerably by region, though, with the highest values in Asia and Africa. For example, in Far East Asia, the World Health Organization estimates 60 million people are chronically infected with HCV, while in Southeast Asia and Africa, the number is around 30 million each. Although the United States is a region with one of the lower prevalence estimates, there are still approximately 4 to 5 million Americans with chronic HCV.6 And each year, approximately 23,000 Americans die from chronic liver disease associated with HCV.