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Hepatitis C

What is it?

Hepatitis C is virus carried in the blood that can affect the liver.

It is often possible to cure the infection and most people with it will have a normal life expectancy.

However if left untreated over many years, it can sometimes cause serious and potentially life-threatening damage to the liver or liver cancer.

How is it passed on?

The most common way to catch hepatitis C is by sharing needles, filters and contaminated spoons when injecting drugs

Other ways the virus is passed on include

  • Sharing notes for snorting drugs
  • From a pregnant women to her unborn baby
  • Unprotected sex, although this is rare. Sexual transmission is more common when having anal sex, including fisting and the use of sex toys (LEEDS)

What are the symptoms?

Many people who are infected with hepatitis C don’t have any symptoms for many years.

Some people may notice the following symptoms after the initial infection of hepatitis

  • Feeling sick and vomiting
  • Mild flu-like symptoms
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

Some people with Hepatitis C remain well throughout their lives and develop no problems to their liver.

However, for some people it can become a long-term illness (chronic Hepatitis C infection). People who have chronic hepatitis C infection may develop liver damage, which can become very serious as it can cause scarring of the liver, liver failure and liver cancer.

How do you test for it?

Hepatitis C is diagnosed by a blood test

What is the treatment?

You will be referred to a liver specialist (hepatologist) for further assessment and treatment. Early testing and diagnosis allows you to be treated as quickly as possible.

Find out how to avoid STIs.