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    DSHS HIV/STD Program

    Post Office Box 149347, MC 1873
    Austin, Texas 78714

    Phone: (512) 533-3000

    DSHS strives to respond to all email requests in a timely manner. It is important to note, however, that messages that you send to us by email may not be secure and may be intercepted by a third party. Therefore, we recommend that you do not send any confidential health information to us by email.

Hepatitis C

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Hepatitis C

Transmission

Hepatitis C (HCV) is transmitted when the infected blood of one person gets into the blood stream of another person. Prior to 1992, persons receiving blood transfusions or other blood products were at risk. New screening tests have been used in the United States since 1992 to screen blood. The majority of HCV is currently transmitted through the sharing of needles and needle sharing equipment (works). Health care workers who have been stuck by a needle or cut with other contaminated instruments may be at risk, although the risk is fairly low. Studies show the transmission of HCV through sexual intercourse is possible, but less common than direct exposure to HCV infected blood. The virus can also be passed to a baby during pregnancy or delivery.

Incubation

Two to twenty five weeks although the average is six to nine weeks.

Typical Symptoms

Most people who are infected with the hepatitis C virus do not have symptoms and lead normal lives. If symptoms are present they are generally mild flu-like symptoms, dark urine, light stools, jaundice, fatigue, and fever.

Diagnosis

A simple blood test will tell if you have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus. More specific blood tests can assist in determining the status of the infection. There are three stages. Approximately 15% of persons with HCV are able to clear HCV from their system without medical treatment, known as resolved. Persons may be in an acute stage in which the virus is rapidly attacking the liver. Persons in the acute stage may have symptoms but the majority are asymptomatic. The virus may also be in a chronic stage during which time the virus is slowly attacking the liver. Most persons with HCV are in the chronic stage. It may take years (two decades or more) to develop serious liver problems and most never do.

Treatment

There is no cure for HCV. There are treatments available to help reduce the amount of virus doing damage to the liver. A balanced diet and exercise are also helpful in fighting the infection. Refraining from alcohol is critical. The combination of alcohol and HCV accelerates the progression of liver disease. New and improved therapies are in development.

Prevention

Do not share needles or "works." Do not share personal items which could be contaminated with blood (i.e. razors, toothbrushes). Avoid unprotected vaginal, oral, and anal sex. Clean up spilled blood with bleach and wear gloves when touching blood.

Danger

Even with treatment, some persons may develop cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately, liver failure. Of the estimated 4 million persons infected with HCV in the United States, approximately 10,000 die each year from liver failure.

Vaccine

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

 
Hepatitis C Resources

Hepatitis C Resources

Hepatitis C information from the Infectious Disease Control Unit at DSHS

Hepatitis C information from the CDC [CDC]

Hepatitis C Prevention Counseling Training

Hepatitis C training for nurses

Hepatitis Treatment Resources (PDF : 250 kb)

American Liver Foundation [ALF]

Co-infection with HIV and Hepatitis C [CDC]

World Hepatitis Day Presentations

HCV Advocate [HCV Advocate]
The on-line newsletter of the Hepatitis C Support Project.

Hepatitis C Support Groups [HCV Advocate]
Search for Hepatitis C support groups in your area. From the Hepatitis C Support Project.

Hepatitis C Materials

HCVinTexas
Hepatitis C in Texas
(PDF : 473 kb)
(DSHS Fact Sheet 13-13113)

A Guide to Understanding HCV
A Guide to Understanding HCV
(PDF : 2,180 kb)
(Hepatitis C Support Project)


Last updated January 30, 2014