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Hepatitis C infection (HCV) facts

  • Hepatitis C is one of several viruses that cause hepatitis (inflammation of the liver).
  • About 3.5 million people are estimated to be currently infected with hepatitis C in the U.S.
  • Up to 85% of individuals who are initially (acutely) infected with hepatitis C will fail to eliminate the virus and will become chronically infected.
  • Hepatitis C is spread through exposure to infected blood. Intravenous drug abuse with the use of contaminated, shared needles is the most common mode of transmission.
  • The risk of acquiring hepatitis C through sexual contact or breastfeeding is very low.
  • Generally, people with chronic infection with hepatitis C have no symptoms until they have extensive scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). Some individuals, however, may have fatigue and other non-specific symptoms before this occurs.
  • In the U.S., infection with hepatitis C is the most common cause of chronic hepatitis and the most common reason for liver transplantation.
  • Much progress has been made in the treatment of hepatitis C. The rate of cure has increased (above 90%-95%) with the development of direct-acting, all-oral antiviral medications.
  • Treatment results in reduced inflammation and scarring of the liver in most patients who are cured of hepatitis C and also occasionally (but to a much lesser extent) in those who relapse or are not cured.
Return to Hepatitis C (HCV, Hep C)

See what others are saying

Comment from: BOHICA, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: May 16

I was infected while in the US Army over 33 years ago when hepatitis C was not known, I was wounded and got blood. I knew nothing until in 1999 while working for the US Government in a cross border operation in Mexico, I got ill, was taken to a clinic in Arizona, blood tests and biopsy done, and learned for the first time I had hepatitis C stage IV. I tried Interferon, etc., for two years which did not work, got very ill, and am unable to obtain transplant. I retired and tried other treatments, including the new drugs by Gilead, which worked for a while then it returned. I recommend all people get tested as soon as possible.

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Comment from: AnnD, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: February 02

I was diagnosed last June with hepatitis C. I thought they were mistaken as I had so symptoms. I had known that I had it in the past, but thought it was gone. Being sent to a liver specialist who then put me on Harvoni for 8 weeks was what worked for me. I was taking no prescription medication for anything for a long time, I then suffered severe side effects. Knowing I'd be healed from it, I began journaling my writings so that I could more fully share my story with those who might benefit from it. I had my 12 week post Harvoni blood test a few weeks ago and it shows, as expected, to be totally gone. When I started the medication, my VL (viral load) was over a million and now it is zero. So glad to have found a medication that really works and is nearly 100 percent effective for many people.

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Comment from: HEPMAN, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: August 25

I contracted the hepatitis C virus in boot camp 1969 from jet air gun inoculations. I didn't know I was sick until 44 years of age. I got it at 18 years of age. I refused the treatment Interviron because only 60 percent of cure. I waited till I was 55 for the treatment. I took the Interviron for 10 months then quit because of side effects. Then I got listed for a transplant and they found a donor for me at 57. If you are a transplant patient this will extend your life for 10 years. I am now finishing Harvoni ribavirin therapy 12 weeks and now have cleared the virus. I was at stage 4 cirrhosis so now I have gotten 2 chances at life. I am so thankful for all those who made this possible. I hope this virus stays away forever. Harvoni chews this virus up and spits it out. Good luck to all of you who have this dreaded monster on your back. I had it for more than 40 years. The sad thing about this virus is you don't know you are ill. Get blood work done yearly to check.

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