Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that results in liver cell damage and destruction.
Hepatitis C is a type of hepatitis that usually has mild and gradual symptoms. Children and adults often show no symptoms at all. Transmission of hepatitis C occurs primarily from contact with infected blood, but can also occur from sexual contact, or from an infected mother to her baby. Although hepatitis C has milder symptoms initially, it leads to chronic liver disease in a majority of people who are infected. According to the CDC, hepatitis C is the leading indication for liver transplantation and is the number one cause of liver cancer in the United States. With some cases of hepatitis C, no mode of transmission can be identified.
The following describes people who may be at risk for contracting hepatitis C:
- People born between 1945 and 1965
- Children born to mothers who are infected with the virus
- People who have a blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia and received clotting factors before 1987
- People who need dialysis for kidney failure
- Individuals who received a blood transfusion before 1992
- People who participate in high-risk activities such as intravenous drug use and/or unprotected heterosexual or homosexual sexual contact
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. People who are at risk should be checked regularly for hepatitis C. People who have hepatitis C should be monitored closely for signs of chronic hepatitis and liver failure. There is a current treatment for HCV that has a very high cure rate and changes patients' health and future prognosis.