Hep C
Basics

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What Is Hep C?

Hepatitis C (Hep C) is a serious viral disease that is spread mainly through blood-to-blood contact.

There are six main types of Hep C, known as genotypes.

Regardless of the genotype, Hep C can cause severe and permanent damage to your liver if left untreated. But each genotype can also be cured.

In recent years, there have been more deaths related to Hep C than to HIV.

Who Has Hep C?

An estimated 2.4 million people are living with Hep C in the US.

Though many are Baby Boomers (born between 1945-1965), anyone can get Hep C, and many people don’t even know they have it.

The number of young people with Hep C is growing, mainly due to the opioid epidemic.

In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all adults ages 18 and over get tested for Hep C.

How Hep C Is Spread

There are many ways Hep C can be spread, including:

  • Being the recipient of a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992

  • Using recreational drugs that involve needles or straws

  • Receiving needlestick injuries in healthcare settings

  • Using unsterilized tattoo equipment

  • Sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes

  • Engaging in sexual contact with a person infected with Hep C

EXPLORE TREATING HEP C

Why the Liver Is Important

Your liver is like a filter with a very important role in your health.

The liver keeps the nutrients your body needs and gets rid of the toxins it doesn’t.

Hep C attacks the liver and, over time, affects how well it does its job.

You can live with Hep C for years without knowing it, but the damage is still happening and can even be fatal.

Hep C is a major cause of liver transplants and liver cancer. However, treating your Hep C could help put a stop to the damage.

The longer your wait, the more Hep C can harm your liver.

Liver damage progression graphic showing healthy liver, liver with scarring, advanced liver damage

Healthy Liver

Liver With Scarring

Advanced Liver Damage

Symptoms of Hep C

Some people with Hep C show symptoms while others live for years without any obvious signs. These people may experience general symptoms like tiredness and depression without knowing the cause is Hep C. Don’t wait for symptoms to appear. By the time they do, your liver may be severely damaged.

Once your liver has been damaged, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Feeling tired

  • Upset stomach

  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Weight loss

  • Bruising easily

Either way, it’s important to remember that, until you treat your Hep C, you can spread the virus to your family and community.

Get tested

Genotypes: The Hep C virus has at least 6 different types, each with its own unique genetic makeup, called “genotypes.” Genotype 1 is most common in the US, and all genotypes can be cured.

Opioid: Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. Opioids can be highly addictive and should only be taken as prescribed by a healthcare provider.

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