How Common Is Hepatitis C?
About 2.7-3.9 million people in the U.S. currently live with chronic hepatitis C infection. 75%-85% of people infected with hepatitis C are infected with chronic hepatitis C. The virus is most common in baby boomers who represent 75% of infected adults. The rates of hepatitis C were the highest in the 1970s and 1980s, the time when many baby boomers were likely infected. Many people who have hepatitis C don't know they have it because the virus may not produce symptoms until decades after infection.
Hepatitis C in Children
Hepatitis C is less common in children, but there are approximately 23,000-46,000 children in the U.S. with hepatitis C. Most children are infected by hepatitis C at birth. A child has a 1 in 20 chance of being infected if the mother has hepatitis C. Adolescents can be infected with hepatitis C by exposing themselves to IV drug use, sharing needles, and high-risk sexual behaviors. Up to 40% of hepatitis C cases in children will go away on their own by age 2, if the virus is transmitted at birth.