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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a virus that often silently attacks your liver. Most people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) have no symptoms at all. In fact, most people don't know they have the disease until liver damage shows up, decades later, during routine medical tests.

Hepatitis C is one of six identified hepatitis viruses — the others are A, B, D, E and G. All cause the liver to become inflamed, which interferes with its ability to function. Hepatitis C is generally considered to be among the most serious of these viruses.

Over time, if you have a hepatitis C infection, it can lead to liver cancer, liver failure or cirrhosis — irreversible and potentially fatal scarring of the liver. Unlike HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the hepatitis C virus usually isn't transmitted through sexual contact. Instead, you're more at risk if you're exposed to contaminated blood — through needles shared during drug use or through blood transfusions.

Although vaccines exist for hepatitis A and B, no vaccine for hepatitis C has been developed. Researchers hope to find a medication that will slow or stop the growth of the virus and prevent long-term complications, such as cirrhosis and cancer, from developing.

 

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