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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is caused by the hepatitis C virus. There are several types of hepatitis C viruses. Hepatitis C is one type of hepatitis.

Hepatitis is a redness and swelling (inflammation) of the liver that sometimes causes lasting damage. The liver isn’t able to work the way it should.

Hepatitis C can be short-term (acute) or long-term (chronic):

  • Acute hepatitis C. When people first get hepatitis C, this a brief infection that lasts 6 months or less. Some people are able to fight the infection at this stage and become cured. But most people go on to develop a chronic infection where the virus remains in their body.
  • Chronic hepatitis C. This is a long-lasting infection that happens when your body can’t get rid of the virus. It causes long-term liver damage.

It is rare to recover from hepatitis C infection, but some people are able to clear the virus from their body. Most people with hepatitis C have the virus for the rest of their life. Most people with hepatitis C have no or only mild symptoms, so they don’t always know they are infected.

If you were born between 1945 and 1965, talk with your healthcare provider about getting tested for hepatitis C. The CDC recommends that all people in this age group get tested.

What causes hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is caused by infection from the hepatitis C virus. Like other viruses, hepatitis C is passed from person to person. This happens when you have contact with an infected person’s blood.

You may get the virus if you:

  • Share needles used for illegal drugs
  • Share drug-snorting equipment
  • Have unprotected sex with someone who has hepatitis C
  • Get a tattoo with infected equipment

 Babies may also get the disease if their mother has the hepatitis C virus.

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