Ten years have elapsed since the identification of the viral agent (hepatitis C virus [HCV]) responsible for hepatitis C was first reported. This remarkable achievement occurred after >20 years of intense effort by investigators worldwide following the observation that at least 1 additional viral agent, other than hepatitis A and hepatitis B, was the major cause of posttransfusion hepatitis.

Before the discovery of HCV, the term non-A, non-B hepatitis (NANB) was used to designate viral hepatitis for which there were no recognized serologic or virologic markers. Because most instances of NANB hepatitis were, in reality, hepatitis C, prospective studies and observations conducted in the 1970s and 1980s shed much light on the clinical features and natural history of HCV infection in adults. However, the discovery and characterization of the viral agent was a major leap forward and rapidly led to the development of assays to detect anti-HCV antibodies...

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