Hepatitis C

doctor discussing test results with patient

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is spread through exposure to blood, often as a result of injection drug use. Less commonly, hepatitis C is spread through sex or from an infected mother to her infant during pregnancy or childbirth.

Cases of hepatitis C are increasing dramatically in the United States, particularly among younger adults. In fact, younger adults 20-39 years old have the highest rates of new hepatitis C cases. Because many people with hepatitis C can live for years without symptoms or feeling sick, 4 in 10 people with hepatitis C do not know they are infected. Hepatitis C can lead to severe liver damage, liver cancer, and even death if not detected and treated. To help prevent these outcomes, CDC now recommends testing every adult at least once, pregnant women during every pregnancy, and everyone with ongoing risk factors regularly. Testing is the first step towards curing hepatitis C. Treatments can cure most people with hepatitis C within 8–12 weeks of treatment.


Key Facts

  • Hepatitis C is a liver infection that if left untreated, can lead to severe liver damage, liver cancer, and death.
  • Hepatitis C cases are increasing in the United States, particularly among young adults.
  • Since hepatitis C often has no symptoms, testing is the only way to know if you are infected.
  • Testing for hepatitis C is the first step towards becoming cured.
  • CDC now recommends all adults and pregnant women get tested for hepatitis C.
  • People with ongoing risk factors should be tested regularly for hepatitis C.


Mature couple
Get Tested for Hepatitis C

Whatever your walk of life, CDC recommends all adults get tested for hepatitis C. Talk to your doctor. It could save your life.

Couple walking on beach
Living with Hepatitis C

You could be living with hepatitis C and not know it. Talk to your physician about getting tested.

Prevention Tips

  • No vaccine is available for hepatitis C, so the best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease.
    • Avoid sharing any equipment used to prepare and inject drugs, steroids, hormones, or other substances.
    • Do not use personal items that may have come into contact with an infected person’s blood, even in amounts too small to see.
    • Do not get tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting.
  • The best way to prevent the severe outcomes associated with hepatitis C, like liver damage and liver cancer, is to get tested and get lifesaving treatments.
  • For people who are tested and found to be infected with hepatitis C, safe and effective treatments are available that can cure people within 8–12 weeks.