3.5 million people are estimated to have HCV and only half are aware of their status. Hepatitis C is an infection that can cause chronic inflammation of the liver, which can potentially lead to liver damage. This infection does result from the hepatitis C virus and can lead to an acute infection or a chronic infection.
How do you get Hep C?
Hepatitis C (HCV) is spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected:
- Injection drug use
- Donated blood, blood products, and organs before 1992
- Needle stick injuries
- Birth to a Hepatitis C infected mother
- Can be transmitted sexually, but the risk is low
- Tattoos in unlicensed facilities
What are the signs of Hep C?
Many people with Hepatitis C do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected until decades later. If symptoms occur, they can include:
- Dark urine
- Gray-colored stool
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite (not wanting to eat)
- Joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eye)
- Fatigue (Feeling tired)
*Chronic infections do not have any symptoms. Most people who are infected do not know they have hepatitis C.
Is there treatment for Hep C?
Yes, treatment is available to cure Hep C, however there is no vaccine to prevent the virus.
Below are a list of resources for more educational information. Some CDC-developed materials are also available in Spanish, and can be accessed online here.