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Hepatitis C is a virus that causes chronic liver inflammation and long-term damage. Transmission commonly occurs through infected needles. HCV is treatable with new antiviral medications, but many people don’t know they’re infected. They may not have symptoms until liver disease has progressed to liver failure.


What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects your liver. It causes inflammation and swelling, which damages your liver tissues over time. “Hepatitis” means inflammation of the liver. There are many causes of hepatitis, and a few of them are viruses. Compared to other causes of viral hepatitis, though, hepatitis C is much more likely to stay in your body for a long time.


Chronic inflammation over many years does serious damage to your liver. In fact, hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of liver failure and liver transplantation in the United States. Most people can’t tell when their liver is inflamed. They don’t develop symptoms until severe damage has already been done.


How common is hepatitis C?
Rates of hepatitis C infection in the U.S. have nearly quadrupled in the last decade. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 4 million people in the United States today may have hepatitis C. Many are unaware. The CDC now recommends that all U.S. adults be screened for hepatitis C. Worldwide, the estimated number of infections is 60 million.


What is the main cause of hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that spreads through contact with blood. Transmission occurs when the blood of an infected person enters the body of an uninfected person. In the U.S., it most commonly occurs when people share needles for injecting intravenous drugs. Worldwide, transmission commonly occurs in medical settings with unsterilized equipment.


What is the difference between hepatitis A, B and C?
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are different viruses that also cause hepatitis. They differ in the ways they’re contracted and spread, the types of infections they cause and the ways that you can treat them and prevent them. Here are some of the key differences: