Description, causes, prevention, treatment and medicines
What is HCV?
A liver illness caused by the hep C virus. Most people don’t clear the virus and, unless successfully treated, have the illness for life.
The illness can cause liver problems.
Window period of Hepatitis C
(the time between infection and the illness showing up in blood tests)
2 weeks (PCR test).
12 weeks (antibody test).
8 weeks (PCR test for babies).
What Hepatitis C is transmitted by?
- Blood-to-blood contact (see left).
- Mother to baby.
Things which put people at risk of HCV
- Sharing fits and equipment when injecting drugs.
- Tattooing or body piercing with contaminated equipment.
- Having a needlestick injury.
- Receiving blood products before February 1990.
- Medical procedures in developing countries.
Symptoms in short term infection
Often no symptoms, but if they do appear, they are like having a mild flu.
A small number of people may have hep B-like symptoms (see left).
Symptoms in long term infection
Fatigue, nausea, muscle aches and pains or abdominal discomfort.
From 1 March 2016, direct acting antiviral treatments (for genotypes 1, 2 and 3). Sovaldi taken with pegylated interferon and ribavirin combo treatment (for genotypes 4 and 6).
- Do not share fits or other equipment when injecting drugs.
- Avoid other blood-to-blood contact.
- Avoid backyard tatooists and piercers. Use shops that follow proper sterile procedures.
- Avoid needlestick injuries.