What is Hepatitis C?

A brief description of risk factors and symptoms of Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus. It is found in and spread through the blood of infected individuals. Individuals may have been exposed to HCV-infected human blood if they have any of these risk factors (CDC 2008):

  • Past injection of street drugs
  • Received a blood transfusion from a Hepatitis C-positive donor
  • Had any blood or organ transplant before 1992
  • Received clotting factors before 1987
  • Been on long-term kidney dialysis
  • Were born to a Hepatitis C-positive mother
  • Been in a healthcare or other setting with direct exposure to Hepatitis C-positive blood

In 80% of cases, the Hepatitis C-positive person will not present with any symptoms. In the 20% that do present, they may experience appetite loss, nausea, fatigue, jaundice, dark urine, or abdominal pain (CDC 2008). It is important to attempt prevention of this disease as the long-term health effects after exposure can lead to death. Those at risk for Hepatitis C may also be at risk for HIV or Hepatitis B, so attention should be paid to these populations (CDC 2008).