The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) was identified in 1989, after extensive research, as a cause of the so-called non-A non-B hepatitis. HCV is an RNA virus belonging to the genus Hepacivirus in the family of Flaviviridae. Six major different genotypes of the virus are discerned. HCV is transmitted via blood-blood contact, and consequently, the majority of HCV patients in western countries are infected by the intravenous use of drugs or by receiving blood transfusion before 1992, the year when screening tests became available. World wide more than 170 million people are chronically infected with HCV. After an acute infection with HCV only about twenty percent of the people is able to clear the virus, the others become chronically infected. Of the patients with a chronic HCV infection, about 20 percent develops progressive fibrosis developing into cirrhosis, ultimately leading to end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. Successful eradication of the virus prevents progression of the liver disease and leads to improved survival.

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Financial support for printing this thesis was kindly given by the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Nederlandse Vereniging voor Hepatologie, Roche, Lundbeck, Janssen-Clilag, Abbott, Bayer Health Care, Dr. Falk Pharma Benelux, Ferring, Gilead Sciences and Tramedico
H.L.A. Janssen (Harry) , M.W. Hengeveld (Michiel)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Bezemer, G. (2012, June 20). Neuropsychiatric and other side effects of peginterferon-based therapy of chronic hepatitis C infection. Retrieved from