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Epidemiology of Hepatitis C in Ireland, 2015.


Health Protection Surveillance Centre

Subject Keywords: Hepatitis C
Catalogue: Research and Evaluation
Type: Report
Region: Republic of Ireland
Northern Ireland

Hepatitis C is a major cause of liver disease worldwide. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is primarily transmitted through sharing contaminated equipment when injecting drugs or through receipt of unscreened blood or blood products (this is no longer a risk in Ireland).1,2 Sexual, occupational and vertical transmission can also occur but are less common. Infection is initially asymptomatic in most cases, but approximately 75% of those infected fail to clear the virus and develop chronic infection. Between 5 and 20% of chronically infected individuals develop cirrhosis of the liver after 20 years of infection. Of those with cirrhosis, 1.5% to 2.5% will go on to develop hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) each year.1 There have been major advances in the treatment of hepatitis C in recent years. The latest generation of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) can cure more than 90% of patients using all-oral drug regimes, which have fewer side effects than previous treatments.3 The overall prevalence of chronic hepatitis C in Ireland is comparable to other Northern European countries, and is estimated to be between 0.5 and 1.2%. Most cases fall into defined risk groups such as people who inject drugs, people who received unscreened blood or blood products in the past and people who were born in hepatitis C endemic countries. Information on most likely risk factor was available for 38% (n=255) of the cases reported in 2015. More than three quarters reported injecting drug use as their most likely mode of infection (76%, n=194).





Rights: Public
Suggested citation:

Health Protection Surveillance Centre. (2016) Epidemiology of Hepatitis C in Ireland, 2015. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 18th October 2019].


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