Hepatitis C (HCV)

Description, causes, prevention, treatment and medicines

What is HCV?

A liver illness caused by the 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.

Window period of Hepatitis C

(the time between infection and the illness showing up in blood tests)

2 weeks (PCR test).
12 weeks (antibody test).
8 weeks (PCR test for babies).

What Hepatitis C is transmitted by?

  • Blood-to-blood contact (see left).
  • Mother to baby.

Things which put people at risk of HCV

  • Sharing fits and equipment when injecting drugs.
  • Tattooing or body piercing with contaminated equipment.
  • Having a needlestick injury.
  • Receiving blood products before February 1990.
  • 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 (see left).

Symptoms in long term infection

Fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and pains or abdominal discomfort.

Treatment

From 1 March 2016, direct acting antiviral treatments (for genotypes 1, 2 and 3). Sovaldi taken with pegylated interferon and ribavirin combo treatment (for genotypes 4 and 6).

Vaccine

None available.

Prevention

  • Do not share fits or other equipment when injecting drugs.
  • Avoid other blood-to-blood contact.
  • Avoid backyard tatooists and piercers. Use shops that follow proper sterile procedures.
  • Avoid needlestick injuries.

Note: This information may not be actual at the time of reading. Always look for actual instructions in the package with the medication.
It is forbidden to use these materials without the advice of healthcare professional.

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