Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is the most common blood-borne virus in Iowa and the United States. There are over 18,000 Iowans who have been diagnosed with chronic HCV, and it is estimated that around half of people with hepatitis C are undiagnosed. HCV can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death.
HCV is usually transmitted when blood from a person living with HCV enters the body of someone who does not have HCV. Today, most people get HCV by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
Hepatitis C virus is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health. The information that IDPH gathers on HCV is used to gain a better understanding of how the virus affects populations in our state, as well as to develop strategies to prevent transmission, and diagnose and treat people living with HCV.