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Hepatitis C: A review and update

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology
DOI: 10.1067/mjd.2001.109311
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract The hepatitis C virus is an RNA virus that is a major cause of acute and chronic hepatitis. It is contracted chiefly through parenteral exposure to infected material such as blood transfusions or injections with dirty needles. Those at highest risk for development of hepatitis C are injection-drug users, people who snort cocaine with shared straws, and health care workers who are at risk for needle-stick and other exposures. Although the incidence of acute hepatitis C infection has fallen dramatically in the United States during the past decade, the prevalence of infection remains high (approximately 2.7 million Americans) because chronic hepatitis C develops in about 75% of those infected. Both acute and chronic hepatitis C are asymptomatic in most patients. However, chronic hepatitis C is a slowly progressive disease and results in severe morbidity in 20% to 30% of infected persons. Chronic hepatitis C is associated with a host of extrahepatic manifestations, many of which may be seen by dermatologists. The most frequent of these are mixed cryoglobulinemia with leukocytoclastic vasculitis and porphyria cutanea tarda. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;44:159-79.) Learning objective: At the conclusion of this learning activity, participants should be familiar with the essentials of the virology of the hepatitis C virus and the major features of the human diseases caused by hepatitis C viral infection; the extrahepatic manifestations of hepatitis C viral infection, with particular emphasis upon dermatologic manifestations, including leukocytoclastic vasculitis, porphyria cutanea tarda, and lichen planus; and the current methods of management of hepatitis C and its extrahepatic manifestations.

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