Hepatitis C virus is a virus that is a common cause of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver. HCV is typically contracted by contact with the blood or other body fluids of another individual infected with HCV. HCV is a leading cause of chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, organ failure and cancer, and the leading cause of death from liver disease in the United States. HCV disease progression occurs over a period of 20 to 30 years, with the majority of HCV-infected individuals generally exhibiting no symptoms of the disease. Therefore, until a major symptom is diagnosed, many individuals are unaware they are infected and live undiagnosed without seeking treatment.
An estimated 150-170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with HCV and have an increased risk of eventually developing liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. It is estimated that more than 350,000 people die every year from HCV-related liver diseases. As of October 2016, the CDC estimated that approximately 2.7- 3.9 million people in the United States are chronically infected with HCV, with an estimated 30,000 new infections in 2014.