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Understanding Hepatitis C (HCV)Hepatitis C

Understanding Hepatitis C (HCV)

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. There are many kinds of hepatitis. Some can be spread. Others are not. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) does spread. It can lead to lifelong liver disease. This includes chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.

Image: No sharing of razors and syringes

Symptoms of Hepatitis C

Most people notice no problems until they develop liver disease years later. Symptoms include the following:

  • Flulike problems (fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sore muscles and joints)

  • Tenderness in the upper right abdomen

  • Jaundice (yellowing skin)

  • Swelling in the abdomen

  • Itching

  • Dark urine

Prevent the Spread

No vaccine can prevent the spread of HCV and hepatitis C. It's up to you to keep others safe.

Do

  • Cover all skin breaks and sores yourself. If you need help, the person treating you should wear latex gloves.

  • Use condoms during sex, especially with a new partner.

Don't

  • Don't donate blood, plasma, body organs, other body tissue, or sperm.

  • Don't share needles.

  • Don't share razors, toothbrushes, manicure tools, or other personal items.

How HCV Spreads

HCV spreads through exposure to an infected person's blood. This is most likely to occur if:

  • You used an infected needle (IV drug needles, tattoos, acupuncture needles, and body piercing)

  • You had a needlestick injury in the hospital

  • You shared personal care items such as razors

  • You had sex without a condom with an infected person (a less common cause)

  • You had a blood transfusion several years ago (blood is now screened for HCV)

Many people do not know how they were exposed to HCV.

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

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