Hepatitis C Surveillance 2021

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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 2021

Acute Hepatitis C


There were 5,023 new cases of acute hepatitis C reported during 2021


There were 69,800 estimated acute hepatitis C virus infections during 2021

Chronic Hepatitis C


There were 107,540 cases of newly reported chronic hepatitis C during 2021


There were 39.8 newly reported cases of chronic hepatitis C per 100,000 people 

Acute Hepatitis C in 2021

The number of reported cases of acute hepatitis C has doubled since 2014 (129% increase), and during 2021 increased 5% from 2020.

There was a change to how public health defines a case of acute hepatitis C in 2020. This more sensitive and accurate definition helped capture cases that the less sensitive definition might have missed. This increase in cases detected due to the case definition change likely made up for any decreases that may have occurred due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. 

 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 2021


The number of acute hepatitis C cases has doubled since 2014, a 129% increase

Non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native

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


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


57% of cases with risk information reported injection drug use

During 2021, rates of acute hepatitis C were highest among males, persons aged 2039 years, non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons, and those living in the Eastern and Southeastern states. Among cases with risk information reported, the most common was injection drug use. 

Chronic Hepatitis C in 2021

During 2021, 43 states reported a total of 107,300 newly identified chronic hepatitis C cases in 2021, corresponding to 39.8 chronic hepatitis C cases per 100,000 people.  

Hepatitis C-associated deaths during 2021 decreased 8% (3.18 deaths per 100,000 people), compared to 2020 (3.45 deaths per 100,000 people).  

The age-adjusted death rate for hepatitis C during 2021 decreased 23% from 2017 (4.13 deaths per 100,000 people).  

 The death rates were higher among non-Hispanic AI/AN and non-Hispanic Black persons (3.4 times and 1.7 times, respectively) than among non-Hispanic White persons.

Fast Facts About Chronic Hepatitis C in 2021


During 2021, 65% of newly reported chronic hepatitis C cases occurred among men


During 2021, the rate of newly reported chronic hepatitis C cases was highest among non-Hispanic AI/AN persons at 66.9 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 Figures and Tables