Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C

Public Health Fact Sheet
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus. For some, Hepatitis C is a short-term illness, but for 70% - 85% of people Hepatitis C becomes a long-term chronic infection.

How is Hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is spread primarily by exposure to human blood or blood products. Hepatitis C is most commonly spread through sharing needles when shooting injectable drugs. It can also be spread by needle sticks or sharps exposure on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby through the birth process. Sexual transmission is possible but not common.

How is Hepatitis C treated?
There are anti-viral drugs available to treat chronic Hepatitis C.

How can we prevent Hepatitis C?
If you are infected with Hepatitis C, do not donate blood, body organs, other tissue, or sperm. Do not share toothbrushes, razors or other personal articles that may have blood on them.  Cover your cuts and open sores. To lower the risk of Hepatitis C transmission to your sex partner, use barrier methods (i.e., condoms) during sex. Stop drug use and get into a treatment program. If you cannot stop drug use, do not share needles, syringes, or other drug paraphernalia. Consider the risks involved with tattooing and body piercing. You can become infected if the tools are contaminated with blood and are not sanitized and disinfected properly.

Additional information is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/index.htm
Symptoms of Hepatitis C

  • There may be no symptoms early on or symptoms may be mild (fatigue, nausea, headache and/or loss of appetite).
  • More serious symptoms include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, light colored stools, dark urine and occasionally yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice).
  • Chronic Hepatitis C may lower a person’s energy level to the point where they have trouble with daily activities.

February 2020