What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and can damage organs. It results from infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. People with hepatitis C may not know they are infected, mainly because they have no symptoms, which can take decades to appear. Hepatitis C can either be acute or chronic, ranging in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
  • Acute hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
  • Chronic hepatitis C virus infection is a long-term illness that occurs when the hepatitis C virus remains in a person’s body. Hepatitis C virus infection can last a lifetime and lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer.
Risk factors
  • Past or current injection drug users 
  • People who received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987
  • Hemodialysis patients or persons who spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure
  • Body piercing or tattoos done with non-sterile instruments
  • HIV-infected persons
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for hepatitis C may include the following: 
  • Serological test screens for anti-HCV antibodies in people who have been infected with the virus.
  • Blood tests confirm whether the virus is still present in the person’s bloodstream.
  • Liver biopsy removes tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope.
Hepatitis C does not always require treatment. The body’s immune response in some people will clear the infection, and others with chronic infection do not develop liver damage. When treatment is necessary, the goal of hepatitis C treatment is cure. 
  • An estimated 2.7-3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.
  • Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C.
  • Approximately 75-85% of people who become infected with hepatitis C virus develop chronic infection.
  • Approximately 19,000 people die every year from hepatitis C related liver disease.
about hepatitis C

  • "Hepatitis C." World Health Organization. World Health Organization, Apr. 2017. Web. 04 May 2017.
  • "Viral Hepatitis." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 Oct. 2016. Web. 04 May 2017.
  • "Hepatitis C." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 July 2016. Web. 04 May 2017.
  • "Hepatitis C | NIDDK." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 04 May 2017.
  • "Hepatitis C." Hepatitis C | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Health System, n.d. Web. 04 May 2017.




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