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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hepatitis C

  1. What is Hepatitis C?
  2. What is natural history of Hepatitis C?
  3. What are clinical features of infection?
  4. How is Hepatitis C transmitted?
  5. How is Hepatitis C diagnosed?
  6. What is the most appropriate approach to diagnose & monitor patients?
  7. Treatment & Prevention of Hepatitis C.
  8. What is the most effective therapy for Hepatitis C?
  9. Which patients with Hepatitis C should be treated?
  10. What are the most important areas for future research?
Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection of the liver which had been referred to as parenterally transmitted "non A, non B hepatitis" until identification of the causative agent in 1989. The discovery and characterization of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) led to the understanding of its primary role in post-transfusion hepatitis and its tendency to induce persistent infection.

HCV is a major cause of acute hepatitis and chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Globally, an estimated 170 million persons are chronically infected with HCV and 3 to 4 million persons are newly infected each year. HCV is spread primarily by direct contact with human blood. The major causes of HCV infection worldwide are use of unscreened blood transfusions, and re-use of needles and syringes that have not been adequately sterilized.

No vaccine is currently available to prevent hepatitis C and treatment for chronic hepatitis C is too costly for most persons in developing countries to afford. Thus, from a global perspective, the greatest impact on hepatitis C disease burden will likely be achieved by focusing efforts on reducing the risk of HCV transmission from nosocomial exposures (e.g. blood transfusions, unsafe injection practices) and high-risk behaviours (e.g. injection drug use).

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