Are You at Risk for Hepatitis C? How to Catch this Silent Killer Before It is Too Late


A major health issue facing our country today is a silent and deadly liver disease called hepatitis C.

Up to 5 million Americans are infected[1], but 75 percent of people with hepatitis C don’t know they have it.[2]

People born from 1945 through 1965 have a greater prevalence of hepatitis C than the general population, and make up 82 percent of all people with the disease.[3] People at increased risk for hepatitis C include those who had blood transfusions before 1992, people with tattoos, people who used intravenous drugs – even once – and those who work in a healthcare setting.[4] Certain populations, including African Americans and Hispanics, are also affected at a significantly higher rate than the general population.[5],[6]

People often live for decades with hepatitis C without knowing because there are often no symptoms until serious liver damage or even liver cancer occurs.[7] Deaths from hepatitis C are on the rise,[8] and the disease is the leading cause of liver cancer, liver failure and liver transplantation in the United States.4

But the good news is that for many patients hepatitis C can be cured, and there are new treatments available.[9]

Regular physical examinations do not test for hepatitis C, so if you may be at risk, ask your doctor for a simple blood test for hepatitis C at your next appointment.

For more information on hepatitis C, visit

[1] Chak, E, et. al. Hepatitis C Virus Infection In USA: An Estimate of True Prevalence. Liver Intl. 2011;1096 -1098.

[2] Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Hepatitis and liver cancer: a national strategy for prevention and control of hepatitis B and C. Colvin HM and Mitchell AE, ed. Available at: Updated January 11, 2010.   Accessed March 21, 2011.

[3] Smith, BD, et al. Hepatitis C Virus Antibody Prevalence, Correlates and Predictors among Persons Born from 1945 through 1965, United States, 1999-2008. AASLD 2011 Annual Meeting.

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 9, 2009. Accessed March 15, 2012.

[5] Hepatitis C and Hispanics. Hepatitis C Support Coalition. 2006. Available at: Accessed March 15, 2012.

[6] Pearlman BL. Hepatitis C in African Americans. CID. 2006;42:82-91.

[7] United States Department of Health & Human Services. Combating The Silent Epidemic of Viral Hepatitis: Action Plan for the Prevention, Care & Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. Accessed August 15, 2011.

[8] Ly KN, et al. The Increasing Burden of Mortality From Viral Hepatitis in the United States Between 1999 and 2007. Ann Intern Med. 2012;156:271-278

[9] Pearlman BL and Traub N. Sustained Virologic Response to Antiviral Therapy for Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection: A Cure and So Much More. Clin Infect Dis. 2011 Apr;52(7):889-900.