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.
You will be advised to stop drinking alcohol and smoking, which can further damage your liver, especially when undergoing treatment. If you have problems stopping alcohol, your doctor can refer you to counseling or a treatment program. There are several ways to successfully quit smoking.
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.
To prevent becoming infected with hepatitis C:
To prevent spreading hepatitis C to others if you are infected:
American Liver Foundation
Hepatitis Foundation International
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.
12/9/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: US Food & Drug Administration. FDA news release: FDA approves new treatment for hepatitis C virus. Food & Drug Administration website. Published November 22, 2013. Accessed December 9, 2013.
4/29/2014 12/9/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases/Infectious Diseases Society of America (AASLD/IDSA) recommendations on testing, managing, and treating hepatitis C. Available at: http://www.hcvguidelines.org/fullreport. Updated March 21, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2014.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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