The Epidemic - Introduction

Epidemiology is a medical term which, broadly put, encompasses the study of epidemics. Included in a typical epidemiologic investigation of a disease are the means and rates of transmission of the disease; identification and analysis of groups of people at risk of infection; study and identification of behaviors conducive to infection and disease transmission; accurate computation of overall prevalence; and other statistical factors that may be beneficial in understanding the disease (for example, are certain geographical regions, income groups, or ethnic groups more or less susceptible to infection).

Epidemiological data is crucial in the prevention of deadly diseases like hepatitis C. It is likely to be some time before a cure is forthcoming, and thus it is of great concern to scientists and public health officials to understand the extent and spread of the disease, and take appropriate steps to retard and contain the illness. The ultimate defense against any disease is knowledge and awareness.

However, hepatitis C presents a formidable challenge for epidemiological study. Known as the "silent epidemic", hepatitis C remains relatively unknown to the general public, and many of its victims have few or no symptoms for years, or even decades.