Hepatitis C



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Information on this page taken directly from CDC data.

Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a serious disease resulting in chronic infection in 75-85% of infected persons.

Signs and Symptoms

    80% of persons have no signs or symptoms

    Symptoms of HCV include jaundice, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and nausea.

Long Term Effects

    Chronic infection occurs in 75-85% of infected persons

    Chronic liver Disease occurs in 70% of chronically infected persons

    Death from chronic liver disease is less than 3%

    Leading indication for liver transplant


    Occurs when blood or body fluids from an infected person enters body of a person who is not infected.

    HCV is spread through sharing needles or "works" when "shooting" drugs, through needlesticks or sharps exposure on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

    Persons at risk for HCV iinfection might also be at risk for infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or HIV.

Risk Groups

    Injecting drug users

    Recipients of clotting factors made before 1987

    Hemodialysis patients

    Recipients of blood and/or solid organs befors 1992

    People with undiagnosed liver problems

    Infants born to infected mothers

    Healthcare/public safety workers

    People having sex with multiple partners

    People having sex with an infected steady partner


There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C

    Do not shoot drugs; if you shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program; if you can't stop, never share needles, syringes, water, "works", and get vaccinated against hepatitis A & B.

    Do not share personal care items that might have blood on them (razors, toothbrushes).

    If you are a health care or public safety worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps; get vaccinated against hepatitis B

    Consider the risks if you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing.  You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health practices.

    HCV can be spread by sex, but this is rare.  If you are having sex with move than one steady sex partner, use condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.  You should also get vaccinated against hepatitis B

    If you are HCV positive, do not donate blood, organs or tissue.

Treatment and Medical Management

    HCV positive persons should be evaluated by their doctor for liver disease

    Interferon and ribavirin are two drugs licensed for the treatment of persons with chronic hepatitis C

    Interferon can be taken alone or in combination with ribavirin.  Combination therapy is currently the treatment of choice.

    Combination therapy can get rid of the virus in up to 4 out of 10 persons.

    Drinking alcohol can make your liver disease worse.


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