Globally, there are 150 million people living with chronic hepatitis C, a blood-borne viral infection that can lead to liver damage, liver cancer and premature death.
Outside of the United States, people most often get Hep C in health care settings, where lack of resources and poor infection control lead to reuse of contaminated medical equipment.
Hep C surveillance is underfunded in most areas of the world, so we don't really know how many people have it in each country. However, we do know that the risk for having Hep C is highest in:
- Several countries in Latin America
- Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union
- Certain countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia
Global epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection: CDC map, 2016
If you were born in a country where Hep C is common, ask your doctor for a hepatic C antibody test. If the antibody test is positive, get the Hep C RNA test to find out if you have the infection now.
Hep C can be treated and cured in the majority of patients, and the treatment is now short and easy – though it can be costly. There are special programs that work to get patients on treatment, regardless of health insurance status.
No matter where you are from, you can be treated and cured, and have a healthier life.
Be Hep Free!
Nirah is a clinical social worker and public health professional who has been raising awareness about hepatitis C and liver health in NYC since 2007. She organizes the Hep Free NYC network in NYC. @HepFreeNYC