Hepatitis C: key points

  • The hepatitis C virus was first identified in 1989 and an antibody test to detect its presence became available in 1991.
  • In resource rich countries hepatitis C is usually transmitted among injecting drug users who share injecting equipment.
  • In resource poor countries hepatitis C is usually transmitted through the receipt of infected blood / blood products.
  • Those affected by hepatitis C often have no symptoms, but in the long-term the infection may progress to liver cirrhosis.
  • Around 50,000 people living in Scotland have ever been infected with hepatitis C, approximately 60% of whom have been diagnosed.
  • No vaccine is available, but the most recent treatment clears the virus in around 90% of cases.

Key statistics:

 MalesFemalesAll
Number of cases diagnosed in 2015 1,255 560 1,821 (1)
Prevalence (%) in 2015     0.9% (2)
Total number of cases diagnosed by end 2015 25,852 12,337 38,577 (3)
Number of deaths in 2015 n/a n/a n/a
% people surviving 5 years after diagnosis n/a n/a n/a
Lifetime risk of developing hepatitis C (all ages) n/a n/a n/a
Lifetime risk of developing hepatitis C (from age 50) n/a n/a n/a

Notes:
(1) Includes 6 cases where gender was not known.

(2) Assumes that 17% of diagnosed cases had died by the end of 2015.

(3) Includes 388 cases where gender was not known.

Codere G, Weir A, McAuley, A, McLeod, A, Watt, A, Hutchinson S, Goldberg, D. Surveillance of known hepatitis C antibody positive cases in Scotland: Results to 31 December 2015. HPS Weekly Report; 50 (2016/30): 238-244.

 

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in August 2015.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out in September 2017.