Q: What is hepatitis C and how do you get it?
A: In the mid-1970s doctors recognized that most cases of hepatitis following blood transfusion were not due to either of the two then-known hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A and B. For a while, this complication of transfusions was designated non-A non-B hepatitis. A long search for the cause of this form of hepatitis culminated in 1988 with the identification of the hepatitis C virus and the subsequent development of laboratory tests to detect infections with the virus.
Hepatitis C has caused about 80 percent of post-transfusion hepatitis, but the introduction in May 1990 of laboratory tests to screen donated blood for this virus has greatly reduced the risk to blood recipients.