Most Hep C infections show no symptoms. Unnoticed, it can lead to liver cancer. Better testing can help. That’s our job.

Hepatitis C is Testing Us. We Will Not Fail.

Jul 28 2017

You may know hepatitis C (HCV) is a serious disease that can damage the liver and lead to liver cancer.

But did you know that most people with HCV don't know they are infected?

As many as 80 percent of people with an acute HCV infection have zero symptoms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), though most will progress to chronic Hepatitis C infection.

Because so many living with HCV show so few signs of an infection, the condition may go unnoticed for decades, often until permanent damage has been done to the liver.

How can you detect a virus that rarely, outwardly shows its face?

It all starts with diagnostic tools that pinpoint the disease early.

(For more on how Hepatitis is transmitted, please see the accompanying information graphic.)

Fighting a silent killer

Hepatitis C is far more common than many people think. Approximately 71 million people worldwide are chronically infected. A significant number of those will develop chronic liver damage (also called cirrhosis) or potentially liver cancer.

There is good news.

  • Tests are available to diagnose HCV infection early before it takes its toll on the body and before it can be unknowingly transmitted.
  • Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95 percent of people with HCV, reducing the associated health risks.
  • The WHO set a goal in May 2016 to eliminate HCV and hepatitis B virus (HBV) as a public health problem by 2030 through increased access to testing and treatment.

Making the WHO 2030 goal of eliminating HCV possible

Eliminating HCV could be possible by addressing these barriers:

  • Opportunity: Not all patients or communities have access to the tests needed.
  • Incomplete diagnosis: Some people who test positive for HCV do not get needed follow-up tests.
  • Treatment concerns: In 2015, of those 71 million persons living with chronic HCV infection globally, only 1.1 million started treatment right away.

"We're constantly searching for new ways to help improve the tests available to diagnose people living with HCV. Part of that process involves studying the barriers to access to testing that hinder eliminating this serious disease," said Gavin Cloherty, Ph.D., director of infectious disease research for Abbott's diagnostics business.

Abbott’s arsenal of diagnostic tools for eliminating HCV

Screening for HCV happens in two steps, according to the WHO.

The first is diagnostic testing for anti-HCV antibodies produced after a person is infected.

If that test is positive, the second step is to confirm an active infection with diagnostic tests such as HCV antigen or HCV RNA.

Diagnosing and treating Hepatitis C infection can require several diagnostic tests. In our commitment to help eliminate HCV, Abbott has made significant advancements with HCV diagnostics at all stages of testing:

  • Screening: To detect HCV infection.
  • Confirmation: To confirm active HCV infections.
  • Genotyping: To guide the selection of appropriate treatment.
  • Monitoring: To monitor response to HCV treatment.
  • Software: To help healthcare professionals decide the next steps based upon the latest testing guidelines or test results.

The goal of eliminating HCV: What you need to know

The first step in the battle against HCV is knowing your status. Ask your doctor if getting tested for HCV is right for you. With early detection, along with the right treatments, it is possible to achieve the WHO goal and eliminate new HCV infections by 2030.



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