The following section includes data from the Viral Hepatitis Program (HEP) at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH). Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection occurs at very high rates among people who use injection drugs, especially among those who share injecting equipment and other drug paraphernalia. Indeed, 60% of acute HCV patients in Philadelphia reported ever having injected drugs.

A patient is considered to have acute HCV infection if 1) he/she meets clinical criteria (illness with discrete onset of any sign or symptom consistent with acute viral hepatitis AND jaundice OR a peak elevated serum alanine aminotransferase level) AND has a positive HCV detection test (HCV nucleic acid test or HCV antigen test) OR 2) a documented negative HCV test (antibody, antigen, or nucleic acid test) result followed by a positive test result within 12 months. The information in this section includes all acute HCV cases reported to the PDPH between 2012 and 2018.

There are some limitations to this data. First, due to the lack of a specific laboratory test and the general asymptomatic presentation of acute HCV, disease incidence is often underestimated. Second, the demographic and risk factor profile of the individuals tested for HCV may not be representative of the population infected. Finally, although HEP attempts to investigate all cases of acute HCV infection to assess risk factors, some individuals are lost-to-follow-up and risk factor information is not always obtained.

Since injection drug use is a primary risk factor for acute HCV, it is important to emphasize safe injection strategies that can reduce the transmission of HCV and other blood born infectious diseases, such as HIV and viral hepatitis B (HBV).

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Acute Hepatitis Map

Acute HCV Cases by Age Acute HCV Cases by Race and Ethnicity
Acute HCV Cases by Sex