Only 34 percent of Americans diagnosed with the most common type of hepatitis — hepatitis C — are being cured of the liver infection, according to a report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The finding comes from the analysis of data on more than 1.7 million people who tested positive for hepatitis C from 2013 to 2022.
The report notes that the current cure rate is well below the national goal of at least 80 percent by 2030. This gap exists despite the presence for nearly a decade of drugs (direct-acting antiviral tablets), which the report describes as “highly effective hepatitis C treatments .”
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. It can be short-lived, but for most people it becomes chronic, sometimes lifelong, and can lead to liver failure, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. It can also be fatal.
At a June news briefing, CDC officials said more than 2 million U.S. residents have the disease, and nearly 15,000 die from it each year.
People get hepatitis C through contact with the blood of someone who has the disease, which can occur by sharing needles, getting tattooed or pierced with tools or ink that had not been sterilized after previous use, or having unprotected sex with someone who has the disease.
Early in the disease, most people with hepatitis C have no symptoms and do not know they have the disease. However, chronic cases may produce such signs as fatigue, fever, nausea, abdominal pain or jaundice, although these symptoms may take decades to develop. There are vaccines against hepatitis A and B, but no vaccine is developed for hepatitis C.
This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research is available via the hyperlinks.