Hepatitis C is a problem in many countries, and even developed countries have a high prevalence of this problem. According to the World Health Organization, chronic hepatitis C is a severe problem and one of the leading causes of liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Up to $95,000 is spent every year to treat hepatitis C infections, and that is only in the United States. If we translate this into a worldwide scenario, medical care costs can reach $370 billion annually.
But it all comes down to how patients experience this disease. What do you need to know about hepatitis C? In this article, we’re going through the basics of the disease, what happens in your body during a hepatitis C infection, the signs and symptoms, and much more.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection caused by a hepatitis C virus. This virus is prevalent in the liver tissue and causes severe inflammation in this organ. It is a spherical virus with an envelope and a single RNA strand on the inside. It belongs to the Flaviviridae family, genus Flavivirus.
The genetics of the hepatitis C virus is similar to yellow fever and dengue. But this is a chronic disease virus and produces around 10 trillion new viruses every day. The genome contains codes for 3011 amino acids, which sounds like a lot, but it is not much. These amino acids make up only ten proteins, including regulatory and structural types.
Blood transfusions were the primary cause of hepatitis C transmission for many years. But after 1992, new screening methods before blood transfusions reduced hepatitis C transfusions via donated blood. Nowadays, transfusion risk is around one transmission per 1-2 million units.
There are different genotypes of the hepatitis C virus. In other words, different variants of the same virus. We can break them down into six genotypes identified in Arabic numerals. The prevalence of genotype 1 is 40 to 80%, and it has subtypes 1a and 1b, which are the more prevalent, followed by genotypes 2a, 2b, and 2c.