Hepatitis C

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

How Do You Get Hep C?

Hepatitis C can spread in two ways:

  • Through blood
  • From an infected woman to her baby during birth

Hepatitis C doesn’t spread through food or water or casual contact.

Why Get Treated for Hep C?

Many people don’t have symptoms, so they don’t get diagnosed or treated for this disease. What starts off as an infection develops into chronic hepatitis C.

Left untreated, chronic hep C can:

  • Severely damage your liver (scarring, called cirrhosis)
  • Increase your risk of liver cancer
  • Cause death

If you have chronic hepatitis C, you should get treated.

Hepatitis C Treatment

We can cure hepatitis C. It has a 95% cure rate with treatment that:

  • Requires a once-daily dose
  • Lasts 8-12 weeks
  • Causes minimal side effects
  • Is not expensive

To get started, we’ll need blood test and liver scan results from you.

Can’t Travel to UVA?

We can still help.  Email us to get connected to telemedicine or other local services in your area.

Taking Care of Yourself After Treatment

Going through treatment to cure your hepatitis C doesn’t prevent you from getting re-infected.

To keep yourself from getting hep C again, avoid sharing drug-use equipment (needles, straws), or getting tattoos or piercings at unlicensed locations.

Liver Transplant: A Viable Option

In severe cases, you might need a liver transplant.

Contrary to common belief, if you have hepatitis C, you can have a liver transplant. You may even get a liver sooner than you'd expect.

Learn more about liver transplant at UVA.

How Do You Know if you Have Hep C?

Most people infected with hep C have no symptoms at all. Those who do have symptoms have: 

  • Fatigue, loss of appetite
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Darker colored urine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chalky colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Aches

Who Should Get Tested for HCV

It doesn't matter if you don’t have symptoms. You should still get tested for hep C if you have:

  • A birthdate between 1945-1965 (one time, unless continuing risk factors)
  • Ever shared equipment while injecting or snorting drugs
  • A tattoo or piercing from an unregulated source
  • Spent 90 days or more in jail or prison
  • HIV
  • Received an accidental needle stick (as in healthcare work)
  • A mother who was infected with HCV
  • Had a blood transfusion prior to 1992