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If you have hep C, you are not alone. About 2.3 million people are living with chronic hep C in the United States. Below are some commonly asked questions about hep C.
About chronic hepatitis C
What is hep C?
Hep C is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. A hep C infection can lead to inflammation of the liver and cause the immune system to attack healthy liver cells. It can be spread through blood-to-blood contact or when the blood from a person with hep C comes into contact with another person’s blood.
What are the symptoms of hep C?
Most people with hep C don’t have noticeable symptoms at first—or ever. That means you may not know you have it.
The most common symptoms of chronic hep Care tiredness and depression.
How is hep C spread?
Hep C is commonly spread by:
- Sharing drug needles or accidental needlestick injuries
- Being born to a mother who has hep C
Less commonly, hep C is spread by:
- Contact with someone’s blood in razors or toothbrushes
- Sex with an infected person
- Getting a tattoo or body piercing in an unregulated setting
Hep C CANNOT be spread by:
- Food, water, or sharing eating utensils
- Hugging, kissing, holding hands, coughing, or sneezing
Who should get tested for hep C?
The CDC recommends all adults, ages 18+, get a one-time test for hep C.
You should also be tested if:
- You are pregnant (get tested during each pregnancy)
- You currently inject drugs (get tested regularly)
- You should also get tested regularly if you share needles, syringes, or other items to prepare your drugs
- You used to inject drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- You received certain blood products before 1987 or received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before 1992
- You have ever had dialysis
- You have HIV
- Your mother had hep C when you were born
- You are a healthcare worker or public safety worker and were exposed to HCV-positive blood by needle stick, sharps, or mucosal exposure
- You have abnormal liver tests or liver disease