ELIAV: HCV [hepatitis C virus] infection is a blood-borne disease.
People become infected when exposed to contaminated blood
products or contaminated syringes or injection equipment. The
incidence of HCV infection (then known as non-A/non-B hepatitis)
prior to 1965 was low; however, the rate increased steadily into the
1980s. In 1988, HCV was identified and blood supply screening for
HCV became available in 1992. People got infected and usually
didn't know it because the acute infection is typically asymptomatic.
After prolonged infection, 20 to 25 years, or so, people were
presenting with advanced liver damage, which can lead to cirrhosis
and eventually even liver failure or liver cancer. A huge cohort of baby
boomers got infected, didn't know it, are gradually getting diagnosed
and finding their disease is so advanced that they are approaching a
crisis point. The clock is ticking on this problem.