Hepatitis C infection is caused by a
virus which is carried in the blood and infects the liver. About 80% of
people infected with the hepatitis C virus remain carriers, with the
virus staying in their liver and bloodstream. Long-term carriers may
develop liver problems years after infection.
Hepatitis C is spread by contact with infected blood. A high risk
of blood contact is the sharing of needles or equipment with infected
IV drug users. Sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
may spread the disease. Other common methods of transmission are
tattoos, body piercing and acupuncture. Some people with hepatitis C
infected through blood transfusions before testing began in the
mid-1980's. Hepatitis C can spread through sexual contact, and
hepatitis C may be transmitted from mother to baby.
Most hepatitis C infections do not cause symptoms. Some people
may experience abdominal discomfort, fatigue, or jaundice. Long-term
hepatitis C virus carriers may go on to develop scarring (cirrhosis) of
the liver or liver cancer.
Hepatitis C can be diagnosed with a blood test.
Treatment is available for some people with chronic hepatitis C.
There are side effects and the treatment may not be effective in all
There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection.