- Hepatitis causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to cirrhosis (scarring), liver cancer, liver failure and death.
- The most common types are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
- The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects and can severely damage the liver.
- It is the most common chronic blood borne disease in the United States; approximately 4-6 million persons are infected.
- San Francisco has the highest liver cancer rate in the nation, most of which is attributed to high rates of hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infections.
HCV is spread by blood-to-blood contact. According to the CDC those who should be tested include:
- Baby Boomers (those born between 1945-1965).
- Injection drug users, current users and even those who may have used only once many years ago.
- Those who had blood transfusions, blood products, or organ donations before 1992.
- People living with HIV.
- Those who have shared non-injecting drug equipment (such as straws for snorting).
- Babies born to mothers infected with HCV.
- People who have abnormal liver tests or liver disease.
- Those who have been incarcerated.
There is no vaccine to prevent HCV, but HCV is treatable and can be cured. Treatment advances have led to high success rates.
The symptoms of Hep C are most often vague and 70% of the people with HCV do not know they are infected. The only way to know is the HCV Antibody Test.