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Hepatitis C Virus

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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a major public health concern around the world, producing liver inflammation and potentially serious liver consequences. This blood-borne pathogen is primarily responsible for acute and chronic hepatitis. The virus is a single-stranded RNA virus with various genotypes and subtypes that belongs to the Flaviviridae family. HCV is spread through contact with contaminated blood, most commonly through shared needles among intravenous drug users or through unscreened blood transfusions. Other means of transmission include needlestick injuries in hospital settings, exchanging personal care products with blood on them, and, in rare cases, sexual contact or transmission from an infected mother to her infant after birthing. The vast majority of HCV infections progress to chronicity, resulting in long-term liver damage, cirrhosis, and an elevated risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, many persons infected with HCV are asymptomatic for years or even decades, complicating timely identification and treatment. Acute HCV infection symptoms can be minor or nonspecific, such as fatigue, fever, nausea, stomach discomfort, and jaundice. Chronic HCV infection can cause fatigue, liver inflammation, and eventually consequences like cirrhosis or liver failure. Some people are asymptomatic until they have serious liver damage. Blood tests to identify viral RNA, antibodies against the virus, and liver function tests to determine liver health are used to diagnose HCV. The goal of treatment is to eradicate the virus in order to avoid illness development and transmission. Antiviral drugs, which are frequently combinations of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), have transformed HCV treatment, providing high cure rates with low adverse effects across shorter time periods. Preventive interventions aim to reduce transmission by enforcing strict infection control practices, screening blood donations, and informing the public about risk factors. Furthermore, harm reduction measures for intravenous drug users, such as needle exchange programs, seek to prevent HCV transmission. HCV vaccines are continuously being developed, with research focusing on developing an effective preventive measure against this viral infection. In conclusion, the Hepatitis C Virus is a major global health problem due to its ability to induce chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Controlling its spread and limiting its impact on public health requires timely diagnosis, improved treatment choices, and preventive initiatives.