At least 2.7 million Americans carry the hepatitis C virus, making it the most common blood-borne infection in the United States.
The study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta represents the first look at the prevalence of hepatitis C in the United States. The researchers consider this to be a conservative estimate. This is everyday Mr. and Mrs. American who live in a household. This doesn?t include the homeless and the prison population.
For reasons that aren?t entirely clear, an estimated 1.2 million other people who were once infected no longer have any signs of the virus. Scientists discovered the virus in 1989. People who inject illegal drugs or engage in unprotected sex account for most people who carry hepatitis C, but people who had blood transfusions before mid-1992 also are at risk.
The disease and alcohol abuse rank as the leading causes of liver disease.
The infection can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer and results in about 1,000 liver transplants annually in the United States. The standard treatment is the drug interferon or a combination of interferon and ribavirin. In some patients, drugs can make all signs of the virus disappear, but it?s unclear how long the effect lasts.
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Another closer to home illustration of the above principle. Drugs and vaccines are not the solution to curing hepatitis. One does not hear that nearly half the people who come down with hepatitis C improve. Did they improve because they were given toxic chemicals or because their immune system fought the battle and won? Interferon, ribavirin and hepatitis vaccines are dead end toxic solutions that are clearly not the answer to hepatitis.