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Hepatitis C

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

Abdominal Organs

How is HCV spread?

HCV is carried in the blood and other body fluids, such as semen or vaginal fluids. The following are some ways HCV is spread:

What are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis C?

You may not have any signs or symptoms at first. Any of the following may develop if HCV damages your liver:

What do I need to know about hepatitis C screening?

Screening means you are tested for hepatitis C before you have signs or symptoms. This helps healthcare providers find and treat hepatitis C early. Screening is usually recommended 1 time for all adults who are 18 to 79 years of age. Screening may also be recommended during pregnancy to lower the risk for HCV being passed from mother to baby. Screening may start before age 18 or after 79 if your risk is high and continue regularly if your risk remains high.

How is hepatitis C diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask if you have symptoms of hepatitis C. Tell your provider any health problems you have, and if you have other infections, such as HIV or hepatitis B. Tell your provider if you drink alcohol or use any illegal drugs. Also tell your provider if you have a tattoo, and when you got it. A tattoo applied with a needle increases the risk for hepatitis C. Your provider may also ask about your sex partners. You may need any of the following tests:

How is hepatitis C treated?

Your body may be able to fight an HCV infection on its own. An infection that continues longer than 6 months will need treatment. Treatment helps prevent health problems hepatitis C can cause, such as liver failure or cirrhosis. You may need any of the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

What can I do to manage hepatitis C?

How can I prevent the spread of HCV?

No vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis C. The following can help prevent HCV from spreading to others:


When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.