Hepatitis C

About This Disease

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that causes disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, stomach pain, fatigue, and jaundice (yellowing) of the skin and whites of the eyes. If the infection continues for more than 6 months, the condition is called chronic hepatitis C. Many persons with hepatitis C infection may not experience any symptoms.

Transmission

Hepatitis C is spread through contact with infected blood. People who have received blood transfusions, IV drug users, household members and sexual partners of infected persons, and people who may be exposed to other people’s blood at work are at highest risk of getting Hepatitis C. HCV can also be spread through sexual contact or unsanitary tattooing and piercing practices.

Diagnosis

There are 2 simple blood tests for Hepatitis C that your doctor can order.A screening test for antibodies shows whether you may have been exposed to the Hepatitis  C virus. A second test called a Hepatitis PCR can confirm if you have an active case of Hepatitis C and be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.

Treatment

There are some medicines that a doctor can prescribe for patients with chronic HCV infection. HCV patients should avoid drinking alcohol, eating fatty foods, eating raw seafood, or anything that may impact their liver. Check with your doctor to see what is best for you see him regularly to check your liver function.

Immunity

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

Prevention

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease virus that is spread by blood-to-blood contact. To prevent infections you should avoid activities that would expose you to blood such as recreational drugs that involve needles or straws; sharing personal care items like razors or toothbrushes; needle stick injuries in healthcare settings; unprotected sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus; or getting a tattoo with unsterilized equipment.

Additional Resources

Information for Clinicians