Hepatitis C is the most prevalent of the hepatic viral infections, affecting about 1.5% of Australians. This month, Dr Ashley Miller describes his approach to assessing and managing patients with this progressive liver disease.
- Chronic hepatitis C is a slowly progressive, fibrosing liver disease. It progresses to cirrhosis in approximately 25% of cases, although the process takes between 20 and 50 years.
- The initial infection is usually inapparent. Approximately 85% of exposed people will fail to clear the virus and become chronically infected.
- Hepatitis C should be considered as a possible cause of nonspecific symptoms or abnormal liver function tests, especially ALT.