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Hepatitis Health Center

Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver. It's caused by the hepatitis C virus. About 3.2 million people in the U.S. have the disease, but because the virus causes so few symptoms, most of them don't know they have it.

There are many types of hepatitis C virus. The most common in the U.S. is type 1. No type is more serious than any other, but they respond differently to treatment.

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What Are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

Symptoms include:

  • Jaundice (a condition that causes yellow eyes and skin, as well as dark urine)
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

 

How Do You Get Hepatitis C?

You get the hepatitis C virus from the blood or body fluids of an infected person.

It can be spread by:

  • Sharing drugs and needles
  • Having sex, especially if you have an STD, an HIV infection, several sex partners, or have rough sex.
  • Being stuck by infected needles
  • Through birth from a mother to a child

Hepatitis C is not spread through food, water, or by casual contact.

Who Is at Risk for Hepatitis C?

 The CDC recommends you get tested for the disease if:

  • You received blood from a donor who had the disease.
  • You have ever injected drugs.
  • You received a blood transfusion or an organ transplant before July 1992.
  • You received a blood product used to treat clotting problems before 1987.
  • You were born between 1945 and 1965.
  • You have had long-term kidney dialysis.
  • You have HIV.
  • You were born to a mother with hepatitis C.

 

How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?

You can get a blood test to see if you have the hepatitis C virus.

Are There Any Long-Term Effects of Hepatitis C?

Yes. In people who have hepatitis C, 75% to 85% may develop a long-term infection. Hepatitis C is one of the top reasons that people need a liver transplant.

What's the Treatment for Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C treatments have changed a lot in recent years. The latest is a once-daily pill called Harvoni that cures the disease in most people in 8-12 weeks. It combines two drugs: Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and ledipasvir. In clinical trials, the most common side effects were fatigue and headache.  

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