by Rick Alan
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes it.
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The hepatitis C virus is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person.
A woman with hepatitis can pass the virus on to her baby during birth. The hepatitis C virus is not spread through food or water.
Factors that increase your chance of this infection:
Eighty percent of people with hepatitis C have no symptoms. Over time, the disease can cause serious liver damage.
Symptoms may include:
Chronic hepatitis C may cause some of the above symptoms, as well as:
Serious complications of hepatitis C include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You will also discuss your risk factors.
Tests may include:
Hepatitis C is usually treated with combined therapy, consisting of:
These medicines can cause difficult side effects. They also have limited success rates.
In unsuccessful cases, chronic hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis and serious liver damage. A liver transplant may be needed, although it does not typically cure hepatitis C.
If you are diagnosed with hepatitis C, follow your doctor's instructions.
To prevent becoming infected with hepatitis C:
To prevent spreading hepatitis C to others if you are infected:
American Liver Foundation
Hepatitis Foundation International
Canadian Liver Foundation
Chang MH, Gordon LA, Fung HB. Boceprevir: A protease inhibitor for the treatment of hepatitis C. Clin Ther . 2012 Sep 10. pii: S0149-2918(12)00490-0. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2012.08.009. [Epub ahead of print]
Hepatitis C. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HCV/index.htm . Updated March 14, 2011. Accessed October 15, 2012.
Hepatitis C. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . September 10, 2012. Accessed October 15, 2012.
Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus among HIV-infected men who have sex with men—New York City, 2005-2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep . 2011 Jul 22;60:945-50.
Sexually transmitted diseases. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/default.htm . Updated August 31, 2012. Accessed October 15, 2012.
What is a blood transfusion? National Heart Lung and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/bt/ . Updated January 30, 2012. Accessed October 15, 2012.
What I need to know about hepatitis C. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hepc_ez/ . Published April 2009. Updated May 10, 2012. Accessed October 15, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Last Updated: 9/30/2013