Hepatitis C Surveillance 2020

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What is Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV is a bloodborne virus. Transmission can happen through sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; from the gestational parent to baby during pregnancy or at birth; or rarely through sexual contact.

Today, in the United States, the majority of persons become infected with HCV by sharing needles or other equipment used to inject drugs. For certain persons, hepatitis C is a short-term illness, but for more than half of persons who become infected with HCV, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection.

Like chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease that can result in cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. Persons might not be aware of their infection because they do not have symptoms.

Since 2013, highly effective, well-tolerated curative treatments have been available for hepatitis C, but no vaccine for preventing hepatitis C is yet available.

The best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs with non-sterile injection equipment.

Hepatitis C in 2020

Acute Hepatitis C


There were 4,798 new cases of acute hepatitis C reported during 2020


There were 66,700 estimated acute hepatitis C infections during 2020

Chronic Hepatitis C


There were 107,300 cases of newly reported chronic hepatitis C during 2020


There were 40.7 newly reported cases of chronic hepatitis C per 100,000 people

Acute Hepatitis C in 2020

The incidence rate of acute hepatitis C has more than doubled since 2013, and increased 15% from 2019.

In 2020, there was a change to how public health defines a case of acute hepatitis C. This more sensitive and accurate definition helped capture cases that the less sensitive definition might have missed in the past. The increase in 2020 however may still be an underestimate because of decreases in testing that occurred due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also in 2020, CDC published universal adult and pregnancy screening guidelines. It is important that health care professionals, public health officials, and organizations involved in the development, implementation, delivery, and evaluation of clinical and preventive services follow and use these recommendations.

Fast Facts about Acute Hepatitis C in 2020


The incidence rate of acute hepatitis C has more than doubled since 2013, a 124% increase

American Indian/Alaska Native

Rates of acute hepatitis C are highest among American Indian / Alaska Native persons

20-39 years

Persons aged 20-39 years had the highest incidence of acute hepatitis C


66% of cases with risk information reported injection drug use

During 2020, rates of acute hepatitis C were highest among males, persons 20-39 years of age, American Indian/Alaska Native persons, those who reported using injection drugs, and those living in the eastern and southeastern states.

Chronic Hepatitis C in 2020

During 2020, 41 states reported a total of 107,300 newly identified chronic hepatitis C cases in 2020, corresponding to 40.7 chronic hepatitis C cases per 100,000.

Hepatitis C-associated deaths during 2020 increased 4% (3.45 deaths per 100,000 people), compared to 2019 (3.33 deaths per 100,000 people).

The age-adjusted death rate for hepatitis C during 2020 decreased 22% from 2016 (4.42 deaths per 100,000 people).

The death rates were higher among AI/AN and non-Hispanic Black persons (3.2 times and 1.8 times, respectively) than among non-Hispanic White persons.

Fast Facts about Chronic Hepatitis C in 2020


During 2020, 64% of newly reported chronic hepatitis C cases occurred among men


During 2020, the rate of newly reported chronic hepatitis C cases was highest among AI/AN persons at 66.8 cases per 100,000 people

Chronic hepatitis C affects multiple generations with infections highest among two age groups: 20 – 39 and 55 – 70 years.

Hepatitis C Facts & Figures