Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C (HCV) is an infection of the liver caused by a virus. It can cause permanent liver disease and cancer. Most people have no obvious symptoms, and there is no known cure.

Symptoms and Warning signs

A short, flu-like illness, Fatigue, Nausea and vomiting.
Diarrhoea Loss of appetite, Weight loss, Jaundice in a small number of cases and itchy skin.

How do you get it?

  • By sharing contaminated needles or other equipment for injecting drugs.
  • By using unsterilised equipment for tattooing, acupuncture or body piercing.
  • By unprotected penetrative sex or sex which draws blood this is relatively rare but possible.
  • By unprotected oral sex.
  • Between 1-5% of infected mothers may pass it on to their child during pregnancy or at birth.
  • Through blood transfusion in a country where blood is not tested for HCV all blood for transfusion in the UK is tested.

How do you treat it?

About 1 in 5 people manage to clear the virus from their blood. The others remain infected and after a number of years they could develop serious liver disease.

In the last couple of years a treatment has become available but it is often not very successful.