What is Hep C?

The Virus

Hepatitis C is a blood born virus that infects the cells of the liver.

This can ultimately result in damage to the liver which will affect the liver’s ability to function properly. If the liver doesn’t function properly then other areas of the brain and body can also suffer the debilitating effects of this clever virus. The exact number of people carrying the virus worldwide is unknown but estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be at approx 150 million people.

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Symptoms

The symptoms of Hep C infection can be extremely varied and will often be mis-diagnosed as something else and in this way the virus itself may go undiagnosed for many years.

In addition to the previous knowledge of Hep A and Hep B, Hep C as an illness was only properly identified in 1989, therefore as a relatively new illness we still have much to learn about diagnosis and treatment.

Typical symptoms can include:

  • depression
  • fatigue
  • skeleto-muscular problems
  • insomnia
  • ‘brain fog’
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Possible Causes Of Infection

Being a blood born virus Hep C must be contracted by blood-to-blood contact, so it's important to be aware of keeping yourself safe.

So, for example avoid:

  • sharing drug using equipment or paraphernalia including syringes, filters, barrels, water, cookers, snorting tubes, pipes.
  • razors, shavers, nail clippers, hair clippers, toothbrushes
  • unlicensed tattooing or piercing
  • brawling or fighting
  • rough or risky sexual practices
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Blood

People who received blood transfusion before Sept 1991 may have been exposed to Hep C.

After this date, all blood in the UK will have been screened for the virus. Also be aware that in some countries similar standards and regulations to those in the EEC and US, are yet to be put in place.

For further information about Hep C, please go to the Hep C Trust website.

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Treatment

There is very effective treatment available for Hep C and treatment options are improving all the time.

For more information on treatment, please go to the Treatment section of the Hep C Trust website.

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