If it is not A or B it must be C– A Stealthy Killer on the Prowl
Till the early 70s, nothing much was known about hepatitis C and it was called NANB (not A not B). Its genome could be cloned only in 1989. The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has 6 different variants—genotypes 1, 2,3,4,5, and 6. Within each genotype are further divisions called subtypes and mutations of the hepatitis C virus called quasi species. This variability of the virus has made it difficult to treat it and to develop a vaccine that will protect against all strains of HCV.
The World Health Organization lists HCV as a major cause of acute hepatitis and chronic liver disease. Globally, 3 to 4 million persons are newly infected each year. Various blood bank studies indicate that an estimated 1% of the Indian population is affected with this virus. So in a 1,210 million population about 12 million would be infected with Hep C Virus (genotype 3 and 1), which is a huge number.
HCV is mostly transmitted by infected body fluids that get into the body through infected needles/syringes, unsafe blood transfusion, sexual contact, and mother to child transmission (5% risk).