Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. About 75% of people who get infected with the Hepatitis C virus develop a chronic, or long-term, infection. Many people infected with Hepatitis C can live for decades without symptoms or feeling sick. Even when there are no symptoms, liver damage can silently occur. Chronic Hepatitis C can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. Treatments are available for Hepatitis C that can eliminate the virus from the body.
- Approximately 3.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic Hepatitis C, but most don’t know they are infected.
- Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person, even in amounts too small to see.
- People with Hepatitis C often have no symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they can be a sign of advanced liver disease.
- Hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver cancer and the leading cause of liver transplants.
- New treatments for Hepatitis C are available and more are in development.
- There currently is no vaccine available to prevent Hepatitis C.
- The only way to know if you have Hepatitis C is to get specific blood tests.
- Testing for Hepatitis C is recommended for people who:
- Were born from 1945 through 1965
- Have ever injected drugs
- Have received donated blood or organs before 1992
- Have been exposed to blood on the job through a needle stick or injury with a sharp object
- Have certain medical conditions, such as chronic liver disease and HIV or AIDS
- Early diagnosis of Hepatitis C is important as it can prevent serious liver problems.