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Hepatitis C: Your Risk for Cirrhosis - Topic Overview

Up to 85% of people who are infected with the hepatitis C virus will develop long-term (chronic) infection.1 About 25% of people who have chronic hepatitis C will go on to develop cirrhosis—severe liver damage and scarring—after a period of about 20 years or more.2

Certain factors may affect how quickly problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer develop.

Recommended Related to Hepatitis

Understanding Hepatitis C -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Because hepatitis C doesn't always cause symptoms, you may not know you have the virus. Your doctor won't check for hepatitis C unless you think you have had contact with a person who is infected or if you were born between 1945 and 1965. If you think you may have hepatitis C, you can get a blood test.  The CDC recommends that you have a blood test for hepatitis C if any of the following are true: You received blood from a donor who later was found to have the disease. You have ever injected...

Read the Understanding Hepatitis C -- Diagnosis and Treatment article > >

The way cirrhosis develops depends on:3

  • How much liver damage you had when you were diagnosed and how long you have had the infection. The amount of liver damage you have compared with how long you have had hepatitis C can help determine how likely it is that you will develop cirrhosis.
  • Your age when you were infected. People who are older than 40 when they become infected may develop cirrhosis more quickly.
  • How much alcohol you drink. People who drink too much alcohol (heavy drinking) can develop cirrhosis much more quickly than people with who do not drink or who drink very little alcohol.
  • Your gender. Men may develop cirrhosis more quickly than women.
  • Whether you are obese and/or have diabetes. These conditions can contribute to the development of cirrhosis.
  • Whether you have HIV or another immune system disorder. These conditions can speed up the development of cirrhosis.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 06, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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