Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by a virus called hepatitis C. You could get hepatitis C from:
- being born to a mother with hepatitis C
- having sex with an infected person
- being tattooed or pierced with unsterilized tools that were used on an infected person
- getting an accidental needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- using an infected person’s razor or toothbrush
- sharing drug needles with an infected person
Most people have no symptoms until the virus causes liver damage, which can take 10 or more years to happen. A doctor can test you for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is chronic when the body can’t get rid of the hepatitis C virus. Although some people clear the virus from their bodies in a few months, most hepatitis C infections become chronic. Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis; liver cancer; and liver failure.
Hepatitis C is diagnosed through blood tests, which can also show if you have chronic hepatitis C or another type of hepatitis.
Hepatitis C is not treated unless it becomes chronic. Chronic hepatitis C is treated with drugs that slow or stop the virus from damaging the liver.