Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States; approximately 3.2 million persons are chronically infected. Although HCV is not efficiently transmitted sexually, persons at risk for infection through injection drug use might seek care in STD treatment facilities, HIV counseling and testing facilities, correctional facilities, drug treatment facilities, and other public health settings where STD and HIV prevention and control services are available.
Sixty to 70% of persons newly infected with HCV typically are usually asymptomatic or have a mild clinical illness. HCV RNA can be detected in blood within 1–3 weeks after exposure. The average time from exposure to antibody to HCV (anti-HCV) seroconversion is 8–9 weeks, and anti-HCV can be detected in >97% of persons by 6 months after exposure. Chronic HCV infection develops in 70%–85% of HCV-infected persons; 60%–70% of chronically infected persons have evidence of active liver disease. The majority of infected persons might not be aware of their infection because they are not clinically ill. However, infected persons serve as a source of transmission to others and are at risk for chronic liver disease or other HCV-related chronic diseases decades after infection.
Testing baby boomers saves lives: about 3 million adults in the US are infected with HCV, most are baby boomers; up to 3 in 4 people who are infected don’t know they have hepatitis C so they aren’t getting the necessary medical care; baby boomers, anyone born from 1945 through 1965 should get tested for hepatitis C. Click HERE for more details
The prevalence of HCV infection among dentists is similar to that of the general population (~1%-2%)*
There are no reports of HCV transmission from infected DHCP to patients or from patient to patient.*
The risk of HCV transmission in dental healthcare settings appears very low*
*From CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings - 2003
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