Hepatitis C

Written by Thomas Hambridge

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a small single-stranded ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus of the Flaviviridae family of viruses and was first identified in 1989. Despite being a relatively simple virus, with a genome encoding only 11 proteins, HCV is a globally prevalent pathogen which affects over 185 million people worldwide. This represents approximately 2.8% of the population and infection may result in chronic liver disease. HCV can be transmitted in a number of ways including exposure to HCV-infected blood, vertical transmission (mother to child), infected needle stick exposure or unprotected sex. Most people infected with the virus initially present with no symptoms, though if left untreated, symptoms such as nausea, and can arise. As the disease progresses, individuals may ultimately develop liver damage, cirrhosis and end stage liver disease (ESLD). Among the various risk factors associated with chronic hepatitis C, an individual’s age, daily alcohol consumption, viral coinfection and gender all contribute to disease progression following infection. There has been significant progress made in the treatment options available for chronic HCV over the past decade, particularly with the development of direct acting antiviral agents, however these treatment options are expensive and efforts to develop an effective vaccine are still ongoing.

Clinical Features



Cellular Characteristics




Additional Resources


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Hepatitis C worldwide:

million people

People affected with
Hepatitis C worlwide

RNA Virus

Single-stranded RNA virus


Approximately 65% of subjects are between these ages

G1 - G7

There are 7 major genotypes