Who Is Affected by Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States. It affects about 3.2 million people in the U.S. and 170 million people worldwide. footnote 1 , footnote 2

It is not always clear how a person becomes infected with hepatitis C. But it is estimated that: footnote 1

  • Most people who get hepatitis C have been repeatedly exposed to infected blood. People at high risk include injection drug users, people who have dialysis regularly, people with hemophilia who were treated with blood clotting factors before 1987, and people who received blood transfusions before 1992.
  • Between 10 and 20 out of 100 people who have received hemodialysis for kidney problems are infected with hepatitis C.
  • About 1 out of 100 people, such as health care workers, become infected through accidental exposure to infected blood.
  • Hepatitis C can be spread through sexual intercourse, but this happens only rarely. Hepatitis C is more likely to spread through sex among people who are also infected with HIV.


  1. American Academy of Pediatrics (2012). Hepatitis C. In LK Pickering et al., eds., Red Book: 2012 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases, 29th ed., pp. 391–395. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.
  2. O'Leary JG, Davis GL (2010). Hepatitis C. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1313–1335. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine

Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology

Current as ofMay 24, 2016