Hepatitis C - Overview
Non-A hepatitis; Non-B hepatitis
Definition of Hepatitis C:
Hepatitis C is a viral disease that leads to swelling (inflammation) of the liver.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). People who may be at risk for hepatitis C are those who:
- Have been on long-term kidney dialysis
- Have regular contact with blood at work (for instance, as a health care worker)
- Have unprotected sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis C (this is much less common, but the risk is higher for those who have many sex partners, already have a sexually transmitted disease, or are infected with HIV)
- Inject street drugs or share a needle with someone who has hepatitis C
- Received a blood transfusion before July 1992
- Received a tattoo or acupuncture with contaminated instruments (the risk is very low with licensed, commercial tattoo facilities)
- Received blood, blood products, or solid organs from a donor who has hepatitis C
- Share personal items such as toothbrushes and razors with someone who has hepatitis C (less common)
- Were born to a hepatitis C-infected mother (this occurs in about 1 out of 20 babies born to mothers with HCV, which is much less common than with hepatitis B)
Hepatitis C has an acute and chronic form. Most people who are infected with the virus develop chronic hepatitis C.
About 1.5% of the U.S. population is infected with HCV.
- Reviewed last on: 11/23/2010
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Unviersity of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Ghany MG, Strader DB, Thomas DL, Seeff LB. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Diagnosis, management, and treatment of hepatitis C: an update. Hepatology. 2009;49:1335-1374.
Jou JH, Muir AJ. In the clinic. Hepatitis C. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148:ITC6-1-ITC6-16.
O'Leary JG, Davis GL. Hepatitis C. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 79.
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