Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C

PUBLIC HEALTH FACT SHEET

What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus.

Hepatitis C is spread primarily by exposure to human blood or blood products. Hepatitis C transmission occurs when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. The hepatitis C virus is spread through sharing needles or works when shooting drugs, through needlesticks or sharps exposures on the job, or from an infected mother to her baby through the birth process. Sexual transmission is also possible but is less common.

How is it 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 precautions such as latex condoms.
  • Stop drug use and get into a treatment program. If you cannot stop drug use, then do not share syringes, needles, or other drug paraphernalia.
  • Consider the risks involved with tattooing and body piercing. You can become infected if the tools are contaminated with blood or practitioner does not follow good health practices.
SYMPTOMS OF HEPATITIS C
  • There may be no or few symptoms in the early stages of hepatitis C, or symptoms may be mild (tiredness, nausea, headache and/or loss of appetite).
  • More serious symptoms include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, light colored stools, dark colored 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.