Liver fibrosis tends to progress rapidly after individuals contract hepatitis C virus (HCV), Medscape reports. Publishing their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers drew data on 1,840 HCV-positive people and 1,840 HCV-negative matched controls from the Electronically Retrieved Cohort of HCV Infected Veterans, covering 2002 to 2012.

The researchers found that fibrosis progression began shortly after people contracted hep C and was the most pronounced during the first five-year period of infection, tapering off thereafter. The rate of progression of liver damage was consistently higher among the HCV-positive group when compared with the controls. After five years of living with the virus, more than 15 percent of the HCV-positive individuals had cirrhosis, compared with less than 5 percent of the controls.

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To read the study abstract, click here.