Hepatitis C (HCV) causes inflammation of the liver and can cause liver damage
leading to cirrhosis. Occasionally, liver cancer may develop. First called non-A
disease than hepatitis B. While at least half of the patients with acute hepatitis C
become chronic, some estimate the rate as high as 80%.
Who is at risk?
and hemodialysis patients.
How is HCV transmitted?
The virus is found in blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. It may be
transmitted via transfusion, sex, sharing razors, needles, toothbrushes, nail files or
even a barber?s scissors. All people with HCV are potentially infectious. As many
virus in their system and whether they have symptoms or not, they can infect
others. Unlike hepatitis A and B, previous infection does not produce immunity.
provide immunity against hepatitis C.
What are the symptoms?
Most people infected with HCV do not have symptoms. Even if they have normal
liver function tests, they are called carriers. The virus is in their blood and can
cause damage to the liver. Carriers can transmit the virus to others. If symptoms
are present, they are usually mild and flu-like: nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite,
fever, headaches, and abdominal pain. Most do not have jaundice (yellowing of the
eyes), however, it can occur along with dark urine.
Is there a cure?
Few people are able to clear the virus from their blood, which is necessary, to be
completely recovered. Over half of the cases reported each year become chronic,
which means liver enzyme levels remain elevated for at least six months after the
What does chronic hepatitis mean?
liver biopsy can identify the type and degree and is the best method of determining
the severity of the disease. Patients with Chronic HCV have increased risk for
developing primary liver cancer. It is believed that 20% of these patients will
develop cirrhosis of the liver(damage to the liver), and another 25% will develop
Is there a treatment?
Treatment for chronic hepatitis C is limited. Currently, the only FDA approved
treatment is interferon alpha-2b. The treatment must be given by injection and it
may have a number of side-effects. Interferon may also interfere with the
production of white blood cells and platelets by depressing the bone marrow.
Murray, P.R. Medical microbiology Second Edition;1994
?Consensus on HCV testing and treatment?. Secaucus, NJ: Advanced
Therapeutics Communications. 1992 12p.
This publication is a bulletin from the National Hepatitis Detection and
Treatment Program (NHDTP), an educational program for physicians funded by
Maddrey, W.C. ?Chronic Hepatitis?. Disease-a-Month, Masters in Medicine.
39(2): 53-126. February 1993.
This monograph presents an overview of chronic hepatitis. Topics include a
classification of chronic hepatitis based on histologic manifestations: I will use this
to understand further the causes of the major disorder, its management and