Hepatitis C is a liver infection. It is caused by the hepatitis C
virus. The virus is spread through infected blood and body fluids.
C is often spread when a person shares infected needles used to inject illegal
drugs. It also can be spread if a person uses a needle that has infected blood
on it. This could happen when you get a tattoo or piercing. Or it can happen when you get a
shot in some developing countries where they use needles more than once to
In rare cases, a mother with hepatitis C can spread
the virus to her baby at birth. Or a health care worker may accidentally be
exposed to blood that is infected with hepatitis C.
There is a very small risk of getting the virus through sexual contact. The risk is
higher if your sex partner also has HIV or another sexually transmitted infection, or if you have many sex
You can't get hepatitis C from casual contact. This is contact such as
hugging, kissing, sneezing, coughing, and sharing food or drinks.
Some people who get hepatitis C have it for a
short time and then get better. This is called acute hepatitis C.
But most people get long-term, or chronic, hepatitis C. This can lead to liver
damage as well as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
Experts recommend that certain groups of people get tested for the virus. These
include people who have signs of liver disease or have ever shared needles while
using illegal drugs. Ask your doctor if testing
is right for you.
Most people who get
hepatitis C do not have symptoms at first. Symptoms may include:
There is no vaccine to prevent the disease. Anyone
who has hepatitis C can spread the virus to someone else. You can take steps to
make infection less likely.
spreading hepatitis C if you have it:
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and
call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your
test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter C666 in the search box to learn more about "Learning About Hepatitis C."
Current as of:
May 24, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
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