Hemoglobinopathy is the medical term for a group of inherited blood disorders and diseases that primarily affect red blood cells. They are single-gene disorders and, in most cases, they are inherited as autosomal co-dominant traits.
There are two main groups: abnormal structural hemoglobin variants caused by mutations in the hemoglobin genes, and the thalassemias, which are caused by an underproduction of otherwise normal hemoglobin molecules. The main structural hemoglobin variants are HbS, HbE and HbC. The main types of thalassemia are alpha-thalassemia and beta thalassemia.
The two conditions may overlap because some conditions which cause abnormalities in hemoglobin proteins also affect their production. Some hemoglobin variants do not cause pathology or anemia, and thus are often not classed as hemoglobinopathies.