What is Hepatitis C?Hepatitis C is the inflammation of the liver mainly caused by hepatitis C virus. It is sometimes called as hep C or HCV. This is clinically indistinguishable from hepatitis B. It may be acute or chronic.
In those persons who do develop symptoms, the average time period from exposure to symptom onset is 4-12 weeks.
Acute hepatitis B infection lasts less than six months. If the disease is acute, your immune system is usually able to clear the virus from your body, and you should recover completely within a few months.
Chronic hepatitis B infection lasts six months or longer. When your immune system can not fight off the virus, hepatitis B infection may become lifelong.
FAQs prepared by doctorQ1. Is there a vaccine that can prevent Hepatitis C?
Not yet. Vaccines are available only for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Research into the development of a vaccine is under way. There is no medication available to treat acute Hepatitis C infection. Doctors usually recommend rest, adequate nutrition, and fluids.
Q2. How soon after exposure to Hepatitis C do symptoms appear?
If symptoms occur, the average time is 6 to 7 weeks after exposure, but this can range from 2 weeks to 6 months. However, many people infected with the Hepatitis C virus do not develop symptoms.
Q3. Who is at risk for Hepatitis C?
Some people are at increased risk for Hepatitis C, they are
- Current injection drug users, past injection drug users, including those who injected only one time or many years ago
- Recipients of donated blood, blood products, and organs
- People who received a blood product for clotting problems made before 1987
- Hemodialysis patients or persons who spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure
- People who received body piercing or tattoos done with non-sterile instruments
- People with known exposures to the Hepatitis C virus, such as Health care workers injured by needle sticks or recipients of blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus
- HIV-infected persons
- Children born to mothers infected with the Hepatitis C virus
Less common risks include:
- Having sexual contact with a person who is infected with the Hepatitis C virus
- Sharing personal care items, such as razors or toothbrushes, that may have come in contact with the blood of an infected person
Q4. What is the risk of a pregnant woman passing Hepatitis C to her baby?
Hepatitis C is rarely passed from a pregnant woman to her baby. About 4 of every 100 infants born to mothers with Hepatitis C become infected with the virus. However, the risk becomes greater if the mother has both HIV infection and Hepatitis C.