" " Hepatitis C



Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus and after being infected with HCV, there can be no obvious symptoms for decades. Symptoms may not appear until the liver has been severely damaged. 

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus, which can lead to acute or chronic hepatitis.

About 70% of hepatitis C infected people will still detect hepatitis C virus in their blood 6 months after infection, which means that their body cannot clear the virus on its own, that is, they will develop chronic hepatitis (lifelong infection). After being infected with HCV, there can be no obvious symptoms for decades. Symptoms may not appear until the liver has been severely damaged. Like other viral hepatitis, complications of hepatitis C include cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Taking chronic hepatitis C patients as an example, the risk of developing liver cirrhosis within 20 years is as high as 15% to 30%.

hepatitis c

According to World Health Organization estimates, about 1% of the world's population is hepatitis C patients, the number is estimated to be about 58 million, children and adolescents are estimated to account for 3.2 million people, and there are about 1.5 million new cases of hepatitis C worldwide every year; in Hong Kong, the Department of Health estimates about 0.3% of the population suffers from Hepatitis C, of ​​which more than 60% are those who have the habit of injecting drugs.

The HCV enters the liver cells, where more virus is replicated. The body fights the virus inside the liver cells, which can cause liver damage. Sometimes the body overpowers all HCV, which can happen within the first six months of your infection.

Most people's bodies cannot defeat all hepatitis C viruses. Over time, the liver will be damaged and left with many scars, also known as cirrhosis, which can lead to liver cancer and liver failure.

One of the Hepatitis is called Chronic Hepatitis C is inflammation of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus that lasts longer than 6 months. Hepatitis C usually does not cause symptoms until it has severely damaged the liver.

Doctors diagnose chronic hepatitis C based on blood test results.

If chronic hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, liver cancer screening should be done every 6 months.

Chronic hepatitis C is treated with antiviral drugs.

Acute hepatitis C becomes chronic in approximately 75% of infected patients.

From 2013 to 2016, an estimated 2.4 million people in the United States lived with chronic hepatitis C. An estimated 71 million people worldwide live with chronic hepatitis C.

If chronic hepatitis C is left untreated, approximately 20% to 30% of patients will develop cirrhosis. But that could take decades. The risk of liver cancer is usually increased only when cirrhosis is present.

In the preceding paras I will cover following most common questions.

Is hepatitis C contagious?

Why is there no vaccine for prevention?

What is hepatitis C?

What is the difference between hepatitis A and hepatitis B?

Why is there no relevant vaccine on the market?

What is hepatitis C?

Symptoms of Hepatitis C

How is hepatitis C transmitted?

Hepatitis C Treatment

Hepatitis C Test

How to prevent hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C Frequently Asked Questions

What is hepatitis C?

What are the apparent Symptoms of Hepatitis C?

The incubation period of hepatitis C ranges from 2 weeks to 6 months, and symptoms usually appear within 6 to 9 weeks. Most (about 80%) infected people have no obvious symptoms. Some acute hepatitis C patients may have the following symptoms, which last for 2 weeks to 3 months:


Loss of appetite

Unusually tired



Epigastric discomfort

Stomach ache

Abdominal fluid

Joint and muscle pain

Swollen feet

Itchy skin

weight loss

Darker urine

Light-colored stool

Jaundice (yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin)

Bruising easily

Easy to bleed

Confusion and slurred speech


Pider veins in the skin

How is hepatitis C transmitted?

Hepatitis C virus is generally transmitted through blood, and the common routes of infection are as follows:

Sharing needles and injecting drugs

Sharing toothbrushes or razors

Reuse of medical tools that have not been thoroughly sterilized

Transfusion of blood that has been contaminated with the virus

Doctors and nurses exposed to blood or body fluids with virus due to work

Incompletely sterilized needles for tattooing, piercing or acupuncture

Mother-to-child transmission (but the probability is only 4%-8%)

Sexual contact (uncommon; MSM, HIV, and STDs are at higher risk)

What is Hepatitis C Treatment?

Currently, oral direct-acting antivirals (DAA) are the first-line treatment for hepatitis C.

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Compared with the traditional course of peginterferon and ribavirin, DAA has a significant therapeutic effect and fewer side effects, which can greatly reduce the risk of patients developing cirrhosis, liver cancer or death due to liver disease. The course of DAA treatment generally lasts 8 to 12 weeks.

It is worth noting that patients will not gain immunity after taking medicine and recovering. Therefore, high-risk behaviors (such as sharing needles and injecting drugs) must be avoided in order to prevent secondary infection.

How to prevent hepatitis C?

Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is currently no vaccine against hepatitis C. To prevent hepatitis C, pay attention to the following methods:

Avoid direct contact with other people's blood and body fluids

Drug addicts should stop injecting drugs and start methadone treatment as soon as possible

Avoid sharing needles and personal hygiene items (razors, toothbrushes, etc.)

Medical staff should follow the guidelines for self-protection and disposal of clinical waste

Make sure that needles are not reused when tattooing, piercing, and acupuncture

Why is there no vaccine against hepatitis C?

As early as 30 years ago, the research and development of hepatitis C vaccine began. To this day, vaccines are still being developed and tested. The development of hepatitis C vaccine is slow, mainly due to the unique characteristics of hepatitis C virus (easy to mutate, with as many as 60 subtypes), and the limited number of animal research objects for hepatitis C infection (mainly chimpanzees and humans, due to cost and ethical considerations).

Can hepatitis C be spread through droplets?

Hepatitis C can only be transmitted through blood contact and cannot be spread in daily social interactions such as dinner parties, handshakes, hugs and kisses.

How does the human body get infected with hepatitis C?

The blood of a person with hepatitis C virus is passed into another person's blood system, thereby infecting hepatitis C. Even if the amount of blood is so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye, the hepatitis C virus can still be transmitted.

High risk activities

Sharing needles, syringes and spoons for drug injection is the most common route of hepatitis C transmission

Unsterilized body piercing or tattooing

Piercing the skin with unsterilized medical, dental, or acupuncture needles

Low risk activities

Pregnant mothers infected with hepatitis C may pass it on to their babies during pregnancy or at birth

Sharing toothbrushes and razors

Health care worker accidentally stabs herself

Hepatitis C is not spread by:

Shared toilets and showers

Sweating or washing with the clothes of someone with hepatitis C

Sharing cutlery, plates, cups and water glasses

Eat food prepared by someone with hepatitis C

Sneezing, coughing, kissing or hugging

Swimming pool

Animal or insect bites (eg, mosquitoes)

Vaccinations, blood transfusions, medical and dental are safe in Australia and we strictly follow all health and safety regulations.


How do I know if I have hepatitis C?

Most people with hepatitis C do not look sick or feel sick. The most common symptom of hepatitis C is nausea. A blood test is the only way to confirm the diagnosis.

When do I need to be checked?

Ask your doctor for a hepatitis C test if:

You have injected drugs, even if just once or a long time ago (drugs include bodybuilding steroids)

You have served time in prison in a country

You had an organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1990 in Australia, or before testing for hepatitis C started in any other country

You have tattoos or piercings

You are from an area with a high incidence of hepatitis C, such as: Africa, the Middle East (especially Egypt), the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe, and South Asia

Your mother has hepatitis C

You are male, living with HIV and have same-sex sex

Your sexual partner has hepatitis C

Can hepatitis C be treated or cured?

The answer is yes, your doctor will prescribe medicines to cure hepatitis C.

If I have hepatitis C, do I need to tell others?

By law, you must tell these people:

If you donate blood to a blood bank

If you donate organs (such as a kidney) or donate fluids (such as sperm)

Some insurance companies require you to tell them if you have hepatitis C or other medical conditions. If you hide something, they may refuse to pay you when you claim

There are different types of HCV (genotypes 1 to 6) and they are sometimes treated with different medicines.

Who treats hepatitis C?

If you think you may be at risk for the disease hepatitis C, talk to your current healthcare provider about getting tested. Once you have been diagnosed with hepatitis C infection, you may need to see a specialist. Specialists who work with people with hepatitis C include the following healthcare providers:

Doctors who specialize in liver disease (hepatologists)

Doctors who specialize in diseases of the stomach and intestines (gastroenterology)

Doctors who specialize in infectious diseases

Nurse Practitioners Focused on Patients with Liver Diseases

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who, through higher education and clinical training, are prepared to take on some of the responsibilities previously only performed by physicians. They work within medical teams and can provide a wide range of health care services, including the diagnosis and management of common as well as complex medical conditions.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment for hepatitis C depends on several factors, including:

How much virus is in your body (your viral load)

Genotype or strain of hepatitis C virus you have

If you have liver damage such as cirrhosis

What other health problems do you have

Your response to previous hepatitis C treatment

Acute (short-term) hepatitis C

Most people with acute hepatitis C infection are usually unaware they have the virus and therefore go untreated. However, if a person becomes aware that they may have been exposed to the virus -- like a healthcare worker with a needlestick injury -- acute hepatitis C infection can be detected early and medication recommended.

Doctors sometimes just recommend bed rest, drinking plenty of fluids, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol. You must see your doctor regularly for follow-up blood tests to make sure your body has fully recovered from the virus.


Chronic (long-term) hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C is when the hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been present for 6 months or longer. Many people already have chronic hepatitis C when they are first diagnosed because they were unknowingly infected with the virus many years ago. Your healthcare provider will evaluate you to determine how much damage or scarring you have on your liver.

If you have severe scarring (cirrhosis), treatment with antiviral medicines is usually recommended. If you have light to mild scarring (early fibrosis), you should still consider hepatitis C treatment to avoid long-term complications of the disease, even though you may not be at risk for many years. In fact, as shorter, simpler, and more effective treatment options become available, everyone should consider getting treatment. Discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your healthcare provider.

Am I eligible for treatment?

In the past, hepatitis C treatment consisted mainly of interferon and ribavirin, but side effects kept many patients out of treatment. However, with the advent of current interferon-free treatment options, many of these individuals can now be treated for hepatitis C infection.

When discussing your eligibility for treatment and deciding which treatment option is best for you, your hepatitis C provider may want to know the following:

What medications are you currently taking? Some medicines interact with hepatitis C medicines, which can affect the levels of either medicine - this means the levels of the hepatitis C medicine or your other medicines may become too high or too low. If it is too high there may be a risk of poisoning, or if it is too low the drug may be less effective. If available, your hepatitis C provider will choose an interaction-free treatment option. If not, he or she can discuss with your other healthcare provider the possibility of changing your current medications before hepatitis C treatment begins. For example, people taking amiodarone (brand names: Cordarone, Nexterone, Pacerone) should not take Sovaldi or Harvoni because of the serious risk of slow heart rate; deaths have been reported. People taking amiodarone will need some other hepatitis C treatment.