Facebook Pixel

All About Hepatitis C

Rate This

Although it wasn't discovered until 1989, approximately 170 million people are currently infected with hepatitis C. It is a DNA virus primarily transmitted through bodily fluids and can be diagnosed by taking a blood or serum sample.

The hepatitis C virus affects the liver by triggering the release of infection-fighting antibodies which cause swelling and inflammation. Over the course of time, gradual liver damage may lead to failure of the organ and the need for a transplant. The chance of liver failure mostly depends on whether an individual has acute (self-limiting) or chronic (long-standing) hepatitis C.

The symptoms of the disease will begin to appear within the first six months of infection. These include pale stools, ascites, bleeding varices, fatigue, fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, and jaundice. For some reason, itchy skin has also been correlated with hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C can be spread from mother to baby but cannot be spread through casual contact such as kissing, sharing cups, or breastfeeding. Those infected with acute hepatitis C will spontaneously be rid of the disease within the first six months, usually two to three weeks after the first symptoms appear.

Unfortunately, the majority of hepatitis C cases are chronic. Those infected with a chronic case may not experience ongoing symptoms but always have the ability to transmit the disease to others. These individuals are usually prescribed an aggressive treatment plan of weekly injections and daily pills. Anywhere from 24 to 48 weeks of treatment can slow the progress of the disease considerably.

Hepatitis C sufferers are at a higher risk for developing a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma. Even after undergoing a liver transplant, those with hepatitis C will still experience the effects of the disease.

There is currently no cure or vaccine for hepatitis C. It causes around 10,000 deaths a year in the U.S., with 35,000 to 185,000 new cases picked up yearly. Sexual transmission of the disease is unlikely between monogamous partners; as the number of partners goes up, risk continues to increase.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Get Email Updates

Sexually Transmitted Diseases Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!