Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is an infection transmitted by blood, which means that the virus has to somehow get into your blood stream to cause an infection. This is not an infection that you get from casual contact, like hugging and shaking hands. For some people who are lucky, this infection is short-lived and your body's own immune system can get rid of it without any help. For many others, however, this infection can continue to stay inside your body and cause ongoing inflammation and damage to your liver. When the infection persists, we say that this person has chronic hepatitis C infection. According to our best estimate, there are about 3 million people in the US infected by this virus. And globally, there are about 143 million people infected. The reason why we cannot accurately pinpoint a number of cases is because for the most part, this infection does not cause any symptoms. And if you don't have symptoms, you're not likely to seek out any type of medical evaluation. In the US alone, three out of four people who are infected don't even know they have it. This is why in recent years, there has been a big push to get people screened for hepatitis C infection so that not only can we get these people identified and treated, we are also preventing people from unknowingly pass it on to someone else.
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