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Who Is Affected by Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States. It affects about 3.2 million people in the U.S. and 170 million people worldwide.1, 2

It is not always clear how a person becomes infected with hepatitis C. But it is estimated that:1

  • At least 3 out of 4 people (75%) who get hepatitis C are those who have been repeatedly exposed to infected blood. These include injection drug users, people with hemophilia who were treated with blood clotting factors before 1987, and people who received blood transfusions before 1992.
  • Between 10% and 20% of people who have received hemodialysis for kidney problems are infected with hepatitis C.
  • Between 1% and 10% of people with chronic hepatitis C are infected because of high-risk sexual behavior.
  • About 1% of people, such as health care workers, become infected through accidental exposure to infected blood.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Hepatitis C. In LK Pickering et al., eds., Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 28th ed., pp. 357–360. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

  2. O'Leary JG, Davis GL (2010). Hepatitis C. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1313–1335. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
Last RevisedJuly 6, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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