hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus enters the liver cells, uses the cell’s inner genetic machinery to make copies of itself, which then infect more cells. In about 15% of cases, hepatitis C infectionis cleared spontaneously by the body and there are no long-term consequences. Unfortunately, in the majority 85%, of cases the infection becomes chronic and slowly damages the liver over many years. Over time, this liver damage can lead toscarring of the liver, end-stage liver disease, and liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is spread through exposure to HCV-infected blood this may occur through IV drug use,a transfusion with HCV infected blood, contaminated hemodialysis equipment, unprotected sex, needlestick injuries, and contaminated tattooing or body piercing equipment.
People with hepatitis C infection usually do not have characteristic disease symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they may be vague and include tiredness, stomach pain, and rash. Because HCV infection often has no symptoms, many people do not know they have hepatitis C and may be infecting others. The only way to know whether you have hepatitis C is to get a blood test for hepatitis C.
It is estimated that about 4 million people in the United States are infected with hepatitis C, which is about 2% of the population. This makes hepatitis C much more common than HIV infection. About 2.7 million Americans had chronic hepatitis C infection in the early 1990s, which means they could not clear the virus on their own. This number is expected to increase to 10.8 million in the next 10 to 12 years. Each year, there are about 35,000 cases of acute hepatitis C.
Chronic hepatitis C infection is more common in certain groups, such as the homeless, Vietnam War veterans, the prison population, and hemophiliacs. The incidence is high in these groups because they are more likely to have the hepatitis C risk factors. The hig…

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