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 55% of whom have been diagnosed.
  • No vaccine is available, but the most recent treatment clears the virus in around 90% of cases.

Key statistics:

  Males Females All
Number of cases diagnosed in 2016 1,060 522 1,594(1)
Prevalence (%) in 2016 - - 1.0% (2)
Total number of cases diagnosed by end 2016 26,899 12,855 40,154 (3)

(1) Includes 12 cases where gender was not known.

(2) Assumes that 18% (7,276) of diagnosed cases had died by the end of 2016.

(3) Includes 400 cases where gender was not known.

Codere G, Weir A, McAuley, A, McLeod, A, Watt, C, Hutchinson S, Goldberg, D, Quinn, L. Surveillance of known hepatitis C antibody positive cases in Scotland: Results to 31 December 2016. HPS Weekly Report; 51 (2017/24): 202-208.


Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in September 2017.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out in September 2018.