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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a viral liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. It is a major cause of liver cancer.

Hepatitis C infection can be acute or chronic and severity can range from short-term, mild illness to a serious, lifelong and potentially fatal illness. There are an estimated 71 million people living with chronic hepatitis C worldwide, a significant number of whom will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.

How is hepatitis C transmitted?

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus spread through blood-to-blood contact. It is most commonly transmitted through unsafe injecting practices, sharing drug paraphernalia, inadequate sterilisation of medical or tattooing equipment, and the use of contaminated blood products. In rare cases it can be transmitted through certain sexual practices and during childbirth.

Preventing hepatitis C

There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. It is therefore necessary to reduce risk of exposure by avoiding sharing needles and drug equipment, as well as other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.

Treating hepatitis C

Many people ask “is hepatitis C curable?”. The good news is that hepatitis C can be cured with effective direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments that usually have few to no side effects. Hepatitis C is considered “cured” if the virus is undetectable in the blood three months after treatment is completed. This is known as a sustained virologic response (SVR), and most people will remain virus free once they reach SVR. However, it is possible to contract hepatitis C again after you have been cured, so it is important to take measures to protect yourself from infection.

Worried you could have hepatitis C?

If you think you could have hepatitis C, contact a World Hepatitis Alliance member in your country to find out more about accessing testing and treatment.

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