|Signs & Symptoms
||80% of persons have no signs or symptoms.|
- dark urine
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite
- Chronic infection: 55%-85% of infected persons
- Chronic liver disease: 70% of chronically infected persons
- Deaths from chronic liver disease: 1%-5% of infected persons may die
- Leading indication for liver transplant
- Occurs when blood from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected.
- HCV 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 during birth.
|Recommendations for Testing Based on Risk for HCV Infection
Persons at risk for HCV infection might also be at risk for infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or HIV.
|Recommendations for Testing Based on Risk for HCV Infection|
|Persons||Risk of Infection||Testing Recommended?|
|Injecting drug users||High||Yes|
|Recipients of clotting factors made before 1987||High||Yes|
|Recipients of blood and/or solid organs before 1992||Intermediate||Yes|
|People with undiagnosed liver problems||Intermediate||Yes|
|Infants born to infected mothers||Intermediate||After 12-18 mos. old|
|Healthcare/public safety workers||Low||Only after known exposure|
|People having sex with multiple partners||Low||No*|
|People having sex with an infected steady partner||Low||No*|
* Anyone who wants to get tested should ask their doctor.
- There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C.
- Do not shoot drugs; if you shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program; if you can't stop, never share needles, syringes, water, or "works," and get vaccinated against hepatitis A & B.
- Do not share personal care items that might have blood on them (razors, toothbrushes).
- If you are a health care or public safety worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps; get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Consider the risks if you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing. You might get infected if the tools have someone else's blood on them or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health practices.
- HCV can be spread by sex, but this is rare. If you are having sex with more than one steady sex partner, use latex condoms** correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. You should also get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- If you are HCV positive, do not donate blood, organs, or tissue.
|Treatment & Medical Management
AASLD Practice Guideline: Diagnosis, Management and Treatment of Hepatitis C
- HCV positive persons should be evaluated by their doctor for liver disease.
- Interferon and ribavirin are two drugs licensed for the treatment of persons with chronic hepatitis C.
- Interferon can be taken alone or in combination with ribavirin. Combination therapy, using pegylated interferon and ribavirin, is currently the treatment of choice.
- Combination therapy can get rid of the virus in up to 5 out of 10 persons for genotype 1 and in up to 8 out of 10 persons for genotype 2 or 3.
- Drinking alcohol can make your liver disease worse.
|Statistics & Trends
- Number of new infections per year has declined from an average of 240,000 in the 1980s to about 26,000 in 2004.
- Most infections are due to illegal injection drug use.
- Transfusion-associated cases occurred prior to blood donor screening; now occurs in less than one per 2 million transfused units of blood.
- Estimated 4.1 million (1.6%) Americans have been infected with HCV, of whom 3.2 million are chronically infected.
- The risk for perinatal HCV transmission is about 4%.
- If coinfected with HIV the risk of perinatal infection is about 19%.
** The efficacy of latex condoms in preventing infection with HCV is unknown, but their proper use may reduce transmission.