An overview of Hepatitis C (HCV)

Chronic Hep C is a disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus is transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. As a result, some people are at particular risk of infection, including drug users, people who have tattoos in unsanitary conditions, people who have unprotected sexual intercourse and sexual practices that are prone to injury, and people who are at risk of being infected at work.

An infection with Hep C often goes undetected for a long time, because in about three out of four cases those affected have no or only unspecific, flu-like symptoms.1 This makes the disease difficult to diagnose and often prevents timely treatment. It can take years or even decades for a diagnosis to be made. Virus carriers without a diagnosis can unknowingly infect other people. It is therefore important that the doctor tests for Hep C if symptoms are suspicious, especially in combination with elevated liver values. If left untreated, chronic Hep C can have serious health consequences: up to 20% of chronic HCV patients develop cirrhosis of the liver within 20 years2 which can lead to liver failure in the end-stage. Liver cell cancer is also a possible long-term consequence of the infection.

Around 71 million people worldwide are infected with the hepatitis C virus.3

1.75 million new infections were diagnosed in 2015.4

Approx. 6,000 cases of Hep C were reported in Germany in 2019.5

Men become infected more often than women.5

Until a few years ago, HCV infection was a chronic and difficult to treat disease. But modern, direct antiviral drugs (DAAs) have revolutionized hepatitis treatment and significantly improved the patient's perspective: With these therapies, hepatitis C can be cured in almost every patient.

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Commitment to HCV elimination

AbbVie is actively committed to the goal of the World Health Organization and the federal government: To eradicate hepatitis C as a public health threat by 2030. We work closely with institutions, patient associations, public health experts and other decision-makers in the field of hepatitis C. To further simplify the path to hepatitis treatment and enable more people to heal. There are several projects across Germany that help to educate people about the disease and can also support efforts towards HCV elimination in other ways - for example by promoting needs-based, integrated and cross-sector care for those affected. With AbbVie Care, AbbVie provides patients and their relatives with practical information on chronic hepatitis C and therapy support.

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AbbVie Care offers patients practical information on dealing with illness.


Our HCV resources

PLUS health initiative Hepatitis C

The PLUS health initiative aims to reach people who use drugs or those with a history of drug use, to provide addiction support for people with HCV.

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Current information about the treatment of Hep C, expert opinions, lectures and much more can be found in our Hepatitis C info centre at

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1. Robert Koch Institute, Epidemiological Bulletin, No. 30/2017, July 27, 2017.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): (last accessed: February 24, 2021).
3. World Health Organization (WHO). Fact sheet hepatitis C; As of July 27, 2020; (last accessed: February 24, 2021)
4. World Health Organization. Global Hepatitis Report, 2017.
5. Robert Koch Institute, Epidemiological Bulletin, No. 30/31 2020, July 23, 2020.