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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

  • “Hepatitis” literally means “inflammation of the liver”
  • HCV Is a blood-borne virus, transmitted blood-to-blood, that damages the liver
  • The liver is a vital organ with over 500 functions – we cannot live without a liver.  It is a “non-complaining” organ –  it has no nerve endings to feel pain due to damage or injury
  • The most common way that HCV is transmitted is through sharing injection drug equipment like syringes; it can also be transmitted through contaminated instruments used in tattooing or piercing, or through sharing personal care items like razors, tweezers, clippers and toothbrushes.
  • HCV can be sexually transmitted but the risk is considered to be low
  • HCV is a hearty virus and can live up to 4 days on a surface like a table, and can live up to 63 days inside a syringe
  • Approximately 20% of people who have Hep C have the acute type which presents with symptoms like a severe flu but resolves itself within 6 months; the remaining 80% have chronic Hepatitis C which generally has no symptoms and people can have it for 20-30 years without knowing it
  • Approximately 3-5% of HCV infected mothers pass on the virus to their babies
  • Hepatitis A, B and C are completely separate viruses and are only found in humans.  There are vaccines for Hepatitis A and B
  • There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C
  • There are new drugs like Sovaldi and Olysio that can cure Hepatitis C but they are still very expensive and not available to everyone – consult your doctor

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