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  • Question 1/10

    Hepatitis C is rare.

  • Answer 1/10

    Hepatitis C is rare.

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    Up to 3.9 million Americans have Hepatitis C, and about 30,000 others get an acute infection every year. Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the U.S. Exposure to blood from an infected person increases your risk of catching Hep C virus. Risk factors include intravenous drug use, HIV infection, hemodialysis, and having had a blood transfusion before 1982. Children born to mothers who have hepatitis C are also at higher risk of having the infection themselves.

    Non-viral hepatitis—liver inflammation—can also result from alcohol abuse, certain medications, other infections or autoimmune disorders.    

    Other factors can also raise your risk of catching the hep C virus, such as overuse of drugs or alcohol, illnesses, medications, or even an immune disorder.

  • Question 1/10

    The liver is the body part most affected by hepatitis C.

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    The liver is the body part most affected by hepatitis C.

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    "Hepatitis" means inflammation of the liver. The liver's job is to clean your blood, help digest fats, store and release sugar, and make blood-clotting proteins. A liver that's damaged by hepatitis C slowly stops working as it should.

     

    Hepatitis C can stay active in your body and slowly damage the liver over time. This is called chronic hepatitis C. You may develop cirrhosis, a condition in which most of the liver has been destroyed and becomes scar tissue. 

  • Question 1/10

    The first symptom of hepatitis C is a high fever.

  • Answer 1/10

    The first symptom of hepatitis C is a high fever.

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    Hepatitis C usually doesn't cause any symptoms. If it isn't diagnosed, it can take as long as 30 years for serious signs of liver damage to develop. If you have hepatitis C, you can spread the virus even if you aren't having symptoms.

     

    However, some people, when they are first infected, can have symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, dark urine, yellowing of the skin and right upper abdominal pain. But because these can be signs of so many other things, it's best to ask your doctor to test you.

     

  • Question 1/10

    Teenagers are most likely to have hepatitis C.

  • Answer 1/10

    Teenagers are most likely to have hepatitis C.

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    Baby boomers -- people born from 1945 to 1965 -- have the highest rates of hepatitis C. It may be that they became infected in the '70s and '80s when hepatitis C rates were high and blood wasn't screened as well as it is now.

     

    The CDC says all baby boomers should be screened. In addition, they recommend testing for anyone who has injected illegal drugs, has had a blood transfusion before 1992, is infected with HIV, or has abnormal liver function. All children born to hepatitis C-positive mothers should be tested. If you think you've been exposed to hepatitis C, talk to your doctor about getting tested.

  • Question 1/10

    You can get hepatitis C by having sex.

  • Answer 1/10

    You can get hepatitis C by having sex.

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    It isn't easy to get infected with hepatitis C through sex, but there's still a chance. If you have multiple partners or if you or your partner has the disease, it's a good idea to use a latex condom.

    You are more likely to get hepatitis C  if you share needles or other equipment to inject drugs ,or if you are a healthcare provider and get an injury from a needle contaminated with blood from a patient with hepatitis C.

  • Question 1/10

    Getting tattoos and piercings can put you at risk for hepatitis C.

  • Answer 1/10

    Getting tattoos and piercings can put you at risk for hepatitis C.

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    Your chances of having problems at a licensed, commercial facility are slim. But tattoos or piercings done with nonsterile instruments can spread hepatitis C.

     

    If you get a tattoo or piercing, look for a facility that has all single-use items like gloves, needles, and ink pots. The shop should properly dispose of all items that have touched blood, use a disinfecting solution to clean the work area, and sterilize reusable tools. 

  • Question 1/10

    A vaccine can prevent hepatitis C.

  • Answer 1/10

    A vaccine can prevent hepatitis C.

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    There is a vaccine for hepatitis A and B, but there isn't one for hepatitis C. To keep from getting infected, avoid contact with other people's blood. Don't share personal items like razors and toothbrushes, especially with someone who has hepatitis C.

     

    Hepatitis C can't be spread by hugging, kissing, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding. Unlike hepatitis A, you can’t get hepatitis C from food or water.

  • Question 1/10

    Hepatitis C usually goes away on its own.

  • Answer 1/10

    Hepatitis C usually goes away on its own.

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    More than 75% to 85% of people who are infected with hepatitis C become chronically infected. Without treatment, they will have hepatitis C their whole lives. The sooner hep C is diagnosed and you can begin treatment, the better your chance to prevent more liver damage.

  • Question 1/10

    Hepatitis C can be treated with medication.

  • Answer 1/10

    Hepatitis C can be treated with medication.

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    Treatment of hepatitis C has undergone a revolutionary change with the development of direct-acting antivirals. If your body doesn't spontaneously clear a hepatitis C infection in 6 months, you are eligible for treatment.  Direct Acting Antivirals (DAAs) are safer and more effective than older treatments for many people and have fewer side effects. They are now also available in pills that contain more than one drug that makes treatment easier. Mavyret, a pill that combines glecaprevir and pibrentasvir, offers a shorter treatment cycle of 8 weeks for adult patients with HCV who don’t have cirrhosis and who have not been previously treated. The length of treatment is longer for those who are in a different disease stage. The prescribed dosage for this medicine is 3 pills daily. Sofosbuvir-velpatasvir-voxilaprevir (Vosevi) is a combination medicine that is used for adults with HCV who have already undergone certain treatments and who do not have decompensated cirrhosis. Epclusa, which combines sofosbuvir and velpatasvir, Harvoni, which combines sofosbuvir and ledipasvir, and Zepatier, which combines elbasvir and grazoprevir, are once-daily pills. These medications have been found to cure the disease in most people in 8-12 weeks. Other options include daclatasvir (Daklinza), ombitasvir-paritaprevir-ritonavir (Technivie), ombitasvir-paritaprevir-ritonavir-dasabuvir (Viekira Pak), peginterferon, simeprevir (Olysio), sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), and/or ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, and Ribasphere). 

     Ask your doctor what's best for you, based on your medical needs and insurance coverage, since these medications are pricey.

    If you have hepatitis C, ask your doctor before taking any prescription or nonprescription medicines, supplements, or vitamins. And don't drink alcohol because it can speed up liver damage.

  • Question 1/10

    Once you've been treated for hepatitis C, you can’t get it again.

  • Answer 1/10

    Once you've been treated for hepatitis C, you can’t get it again.

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    Even after successful treatment, you can still be infected again with hepatitis C. The chance is lower, but it's still there.

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Sources | Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on September 10, 2017 Medically Reviewed on September 10, 2017

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, MS, DO on
September 10, 2017

IMAGE PROVIDED BY:

SCIEPRO / Science Photo Library

SOURCES:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: "Treating Chronic Hepatitis C: A Review of the Research for Adults."

American Cancer Society: "What are the risk factors for liver cancer?"

Carney, K. Hepatology , June 2013.

CDC: "Disease Burden from Viral Hepatitis A, B, and C in the United States;" "Hepatitis B: FAQs for the Public;" "Hepatitis C FAQs for Health Professionals;" "Hepatitis C FAQs for the Public;" "Hepatitis C Information for Health Professionals;" "Hepatitis C: Why Baby Boomers Should Get Tested;" "Learn More about Hepatitis C;" "Living With Chronic Hepatitis C;" "Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Hepatitis C;" "Sharps Injuries: Bloodborne pathogens;" and "Viral Hepatitis."

FDA. "FDA approves Mavyret for Hepatitis C." "Mavyret Prescribing Information."

Hepatitis C Online. "Sofosbuvir-Velpatasvir-Voxilaprevir (Vosevi)." "Hepatitis C Treatments."

Hepatitis C Support Project: "HCV & Tattoos."

Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library: "Hepatitis C."

KidsHealth: "Your Liver."

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "What I need to know about Hepatitis C."

TeensHealth: "Hepatitis."

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: "Hepatitis C: Frequently Asked Questions."

UpToDate.com.

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.