Hepatitis C

By Gabriela Villa Nova Silva

What is it?

Hepatitis C is one of several hepatitis viruses and is generally considered to be among the most serious of these viruses. It is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver.

Chain of infection

Hepatitis C (HCV) is spread when you come in contact with blood contaminated with the virus, most commonly through needles shared during illegal drug use, but it can also occur through a simple blood transfusion, injection drug use or an organ transplant. It can also be spread by non-sterile instruments when getting a tattoo or body piercing; and while rare, through sexual transmission.

Incubation period

Hepatitis C, it's estimated that the incubation period is 2 to 26 weeks.
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Signs and symptoms

HCV is asymptomatic disease ( also called a "silent disease"), Hep C symptoms often do not appear or can be quite mild for years or even decades, even while liver damage is taking place. Most people with the Hep C virus go on to develop chronic Hep C and still have no symptoms or signs. Common symptoms of chronic Hep C can include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, abdominal pain, joint pain, gray-colored stools, and jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes).


New drugs are making big improvements in the way you get treated for hepatitis C. As treatments get better, nearly everyone with hep C may be able to look forward to a disease-free future. The goal of your treatment is to get rid of the hepatitis C in your body. You're considered cured if you don't have any virus in your blood 6 months after you stop taking medicine. A turning point in finding a cure came when doctors began treating the disease with interferon in the 1990s. The drug boosts your immune system, your body's defense against germs, to help it fight off the hep C virus. Next came the use of ribavirin, another drug that fights the virus. You take it with interferon to improve treatment. Thanks to this combo, the cure rate jumped from less than 5% in the 1980s to about 50% by the early 2000s. But interferon and ribavirin can give you side effects, including muscle aches, fever, nausea, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. You also need to take them for up to 48 weeks to see results. In 2011, the FDA approved two new drugs: boceprevir (Victrelis) and telaprevir (Incivek). They stop the virus from making a copy of itself. Combining telaprevir or boceprevir with interferon and ribavirin pushed success rates as high as 70%. But the drug combination still wasn't ideal.
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Treatment or cure

  • Treated with antiviral medications.
  • Goal of the treatment is to clear the virus within at least 12 weeks after the end of the treatment.
  • Medication have had serious side effects and required that a person be treated from 24 to 72 weeks.
Side effects included depression, flu-like symptoms, and loss of healthy red or white blood cells (anemia or neutropenia).

  • Recently advances combined new anti-viral medications with existing ones, as a result they had better outcomes, less side effects and shorter time in the treatment.
  • Regimens may vary depending on the hepatitis C genotype.
  • During a liver transplant, the surgeon removes your damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy liver.
  • Liver transplant is not a cure.
  • Treatment with antiviral medications usually continues after a liver transplant, since hepatitis C infection is likely to recur in the new liver.

What is the response from international agencies?

The CDC estimates that 3.2 million people in the U.S. have hepatitis C with approximately 75 percent of those infected being baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965. The CDC believes many may have been infected in the 1970s and 1980s when hepatitis C rates were high. In addition, baby boomers may have become infected from contaminated blood used prior to 1992 when comprehensive screening for the hepatitis C virus was not in place. The CDC recommends testing for hepatitis C, as early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer and other complications.

Prevention strategies

Although there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, your doctor will likely recommend that you receive vaccines against the hepatitis A and B viruses. These are separate viruses that also can cause liver damage and complicate treatment of hepatitis C. Avoid exposure to the blood of anyone who is infected with hepatitis C.

Works Cited


"Hep C." FAQs | HARVONI® (ledipasvir 90 Mg/sofosbuvir 400 Mg). N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015. <http://www.harvoni.com/taking-harvoni/faqs?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Search+-+Awareness&utm_term=hepatitis+c>.

"Hepatitis C." - Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2015. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-c/basics/definition/CON-20030618>.

"Hepatitis C Test." MedSpring Urgent Care. N.p., 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 04 Dec. 2015. <http://medspring.com/hepatitis-c-test?utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=MedSpring+-+Dallas+-+Injuries+%26+Illnesses+-+%5BNonBrand%5D+%5BEXACT%5D&utm_term=hepatitis+c>.

Feature, Stephanie WatsonWebMD. "Can Hepatitis C Be Cured?" WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 08 Dec. 2015. <http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/features/cure>.


Simmers, Louise. Diversified Health Occupations. 6th ed. Australia: Thomson/Delmar Learning, 2004. Print.