Hepatitis C is a liver illness caused by a virus that lives in your liver.
Hepatitis C virus is sometimes called HCV for short. Did you know that “hepatitis” is a Greek word? “Hepat” means “of the liver” and “itis” means “inflammation” (swelling).
If you have hep C then the virus may be damaging your liver, making it harder for it to perform the many jobs it does to keep you healthy.
There are two phases to hep C infection – acute and chronic. Everyone who catches hep C goes through the acute stage; it’s when you first get the infection and lasts for about six months. During this time you may feel a bit ill (flu-like) or you may not notice anything at all. One in four people clear their hep C during the acute phase.
Three out of four people don’t clear hep C in the acute stage and go on to have an ongoing, life-long infection. This is called chronic hep C. There is a chance it can make you ill but there are treatments that can cure you.
What is it?
A liver illness caused by hep C virus. Most people don’t clear the virus and, unless successfully treated, have the illness for life. The illness can cause liver problems.
A window period is the time between infection and the illness showing up in the blood tests
2 weeks (PCR test), 12 weeks (antibody test) – source
8 weeks (PCR test for babies) – source
Blood-to-blood contact (when someone’s blood gets into another person’s bloodstream).
Mother to baby.
Behaviours which put people at risk
Sharing needles and syringes when injecting drugs.
Sharing other equipment (e.g. spoons, filters, tourniquets) when injecting drugs.
Receiving blood products before February 1990 in Australia.
Having a needlestick injury.
Tattooing or body piercing with contaminated equipment.
Medical procedures in developing countries.
Symptoms in short term infection
Often no symptoms, but if they do appear, they are like having a mild flu.
A small number of people may have hep B-like symptoms. They include jaundice (yellowing of eyes and sometimes skin), dark urine, fatigue, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea and joint pain.
Symptoms in long term infection
Many people don’t feel ill from their hep C. If someone does feel ill after several years, common symptoms include fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and pains or abdominal discomfort.
Direct acting antiviral pills (for genotypes 1, 2, 3 & 4).
Sovaldi pills taken with pegylated interferon injections and ribavirin pills (for genotype 6).
Do not share fits or other equipment when injecting drugs.
Avoid other blood-to-blood contact.
Avoid backyard tattooists and piercers. Use shops that follow proper sterile procedures.
Avoid needlestick injuries
This page was last updated 19 June 2017