What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of several viruses that cause Hepatitis. It can lead to chronic liver disease like cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer and liver failure.
How do I get hepatitis C?
- HCV is spread when people share blood or body fluids containing the virus during such activities like:
- Sharing needles, spoons, straws and other drug related equipment.
- Getting tattoos or body parts pierced with used or non-sterile needles.
- If you received a blood transfusion or blood products before 1992, you may also have been infected. A pregnant woman who has HCV can pass it on to her baby before or at the time of birth.
- Although HCV is not usually spread by sexual intercourse, there’s still a risk of being infected if you have open sores on your genitals or through contact with an infected woman’s menstrual blood.
Do I have hepatitis C?
Many people who have the Hepatitis C virus don’t even know it and can spread it to others without realizing it. The symptoms can appear 2-weeks to 6-months after exposure to the virus. You’ll need to have a special blood test to detect the Hepatitis C virus.
The following symptoms can be present:
- Feeling very tired most of the time.
- Loss of appetite.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- A yellowish tinge to the skin or eyes.
- Weight loss.
- Joint and muscle aches.
How do you treat hepatitis C?
There is no cure or vaccine for Hepatitis C. If you have it, your doctor will refer you to a specialist for more tests and treatment options.
How do I prevent hepatitis C?
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Don’t share any equipment for drug use (needles, spoons etc.), tattooing, body or ear piercing.
Don’t donate blood or organs for transplants if you have HCV.
Use a condom or latex barrier (dental dam) every time you have sex.