Health Questions and Answers

Question: How is HCV transmitted? What are the possible courses of the disease?

Answer:

Blood transfusions, shared and/or contaminated needles among IV drug abusers, intransal drugs, high-risk sexual behavior, tattoos, and (albeit low) vertical transmission from infected mothers to unborn children (accounts for 3-6%). Nearly 30% of persons infected with hepatitis C have no known risk exposure. Significant liver disease develops in 50% of persons infected, and they are at risk for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Detection of HCV-RNA by polymerase chain reaction is the definitive test for active hepatitis C.

Reference: Reddy KR, Long WB (eds): The Requisites in Gastroenterology: Vol 3: Hepatobiliary Tract and Pancreas. St. Louis, Mosby, 2003.

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