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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 14, Suppl B, Pages 67B-77B

Hepatitis C

Daniel Lavanchy and Pilar Gavinio

World Health Organization (WHO), Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response, Geneva, Switzerland

Received 16 September 1999; Accepted 27 September 1999

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hepatitis C has been identified as the most common cause of post-transfusion hepatitis worldwide, accounting for approximately 90% of this disease in Japan, the United States and Western Europe. Hepatitis C is a major global public health problem. New infections continue to occur, and the source of infection includes transfusion of blood or blood products from unscreened donors; transfusion of blood products that have not undergone viral inactivation; parenteral exposure to blood through use of contaminated and inadequately sterilized instruments and needles used in medical, dental and ‘traditional’ medicine; procedures such as hemodialysis; high risk sexual practices; household or sexual contacts of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected persons; and infants of HCV-infected mothers. In many countries, the relative contribution of the various sources of infection has not been defined with population-based epidemiological studies. Such studies are necessary to enable countries to prioritize their preventive measures and to make the most appropriate use of available resources. Given the substantial morbidity and mortality attributable to HCV-related chronic liver disease, each country, irrespective of economic status, should develop a plan of HCVrelated public health activities for the prevention of newHCVinfections and the treatment of established chronic infections.