Hepatitis C a virus that can infect and damage the liver.
Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through blood to blood contact, such as:
It isn't commonly transmitted through vaginal sex, but it can be transmitted through certain types of sex which are more at risk of bleeding. People can be more at risk of acquiring Hepatits C if:
During the early stage of infection there may not be any symptoms.
If symptoms do develop at this stage it is usually within the first six months after infection and they can be easily mistaken for another condition.
Symptoms can include:
Some people can clear the virus at the early stage of infection. However, four out of five people will not be able to fight off the infection. This leads to a long term infection called chronic Hepatitis.
Hepatitis C can lead to problems with your liver, including scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), often years after catching the infection.
Hepatitis C can be treated with antiviral medicines designed to stop the virus from multiplying inside the body and to prevent liver damage. The sooner treatment begins after exposure to the Hepatitis C virus, the more likely it is to succeed.
If the virus is cleared with treatment, you are not immune to future infections of Hepatitis C.
If you are diagnosed with Hepatitis C, you should tell anyone who you may have had blood to blood contact with, or unprotected sex with, since you became infected so they can get tested. In some cases this may be hard to work out, so it is best to discuss the risk to others with your doctor.
There is no vaccination for Hepatitis C.
You should go to a sexual health clinic if you have unusual symptoms that persist for more than a few days, or if you are worried about any tupes of sex which could have put you at risk of Hepatitis C. You can also get tested for Hepatitis C at your GP or a drug treatment service. The clinician will take a simple blood test.
Test results are most accurate six to ten weeks after exposure. However, tests for Hepatitis C often can't distinguish between recent and previous infection.
Antiviral medication usually acts to prevent a virus from multiplying.
They may be able to tell if you have symptoms of infection, but many people don't have symptoms, meaning their partners wont be able to tell. However, you should tell your partner if you have Hepatitis C as they will need testing and may need treatment.
No, Hepatitis C doesn't affect fertility.