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Home > Hepatitis C: current management and emerging therapies.

[Irish Medical Times] , Stewert, Stephen and O'Neill, Mary-Teresa Hepatitis C: current management and emerging therapies. (22 Sep 2011)


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is one of the main causes of chronic liver disease worldwide. It affects 2.35 per cent of the world’s population, or 160 million individuals. Hepatitis C was first identified in 1989 and became a notifiable disease in Ireland under the Infectious Diseases Amendment Regulations in 2004.

Since then, there have been approximately 9,661 notified cases of hepatitis C. Some 67 per cent of notified cases in 2011 were male and the median age for notification was 36 years for males and 32 years for females.

Prior to the 1990s, the primary routes of HCV infection were via blood transfusion and intravenous drug use. These modes of transmission account for approximately 70 per cent of cases in developed countries. Screening of blood products for HCV has virtually eradicated transfusion-transmitted hepatitis C in European countries. Approximately 1,700 people have been identified as being infected with HCV through the receipt of contaminated blood and blood products in Ireland. These include women infected through anti-D immunoglobulin, recipients of blood transfusion, patients with haemophilia and other blood-clotting disorders and those who received haemodialysis. At present, new HCV infections are mainly due to intravenous or nasal drug use.

In Ireland, approximately seven in every 10 injecting drug users receiving drug treatment test positive for antibodies to HCV. Perinatal and heterosexual transmission risk is low. In fact, the risk of sexual transmission is sufficiently low that the use of barrier protection is generally not advised among monogamous couples. Promiscuous sexual activity may be related to increased risk of HCV infection....


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