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What is Chronic Hepatitis C and Who is at Risk?

What is Chronic Hepatitis C (HCV) Infection?

HCV is a virus that attacks the liver. If HCV is left untreated, it can result in long-term, progressive liver disease. HCV can eventually prevent the liver from functioning properly.

  • HCV is a communicable, blood-borne viral disease. That means you can get it if blood from an infected person enters your body.
  • A simple blood test is used to diagnose HCV.
  • HCV is a silent disease. People may have few or no symptoms for years, although the virus continues to gradually impact the liver. By the time symptoms do occur, liver disease is often advanced.
  • When symptoms do occur, they are often non-specific and can include fatigue, joint pain and depression. Once HCV has progressed to cirrhosis, symptoms may include jaundice, swelling, bleeding and confusion.
  • In the past 5 years, new medications have been developed which are highly effective and also well-tolerated with very few or no side effects.
  • Typical treatment for HCV now involves taking a pill or pills daily for 8 to 12 weeks. More than 95 percent of patients taking these new medications are completely cured of the disease.
  • Once HCV has been treated, the liver can begin to heal. If you’ve been diagnosed with HCV, you’re not alone. In the United States, as many as 3 million people have HCV. The good news is that recent scientific advances have made treatments for HCV shorter (as little as 8 weeks) and more effective (over 95% cure rates), with very few, if any, side effects.

Who is at Risk for HCV?

  • About 75% of people in the United States who have HCV were born between 1945-1965.
  • Injection drug use is currently the most common means of HCV transmission in the United States.
  • New cases of HCV are increasing most rapidly among young people (ages 20-29).
  • Nearly half of people infected with HCV remain undiagnosed.

You’re at Risk If You:

  • Had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
  • Received a blood-clotting product made before 1987
  • Are a health care worker and have been injured by a needle stick
  • Received any tattoos or body piercings with non-sterile instruments
  • Have been on kidney dialysis for a long time
  • Have had sex with a person infected with HCV
  • Have HIV
  • Have ever been in jail or prison
  • Were born to a mother who has HCV
  • Have ever injected drugs or shared needles with anyone, even just once!

Schedule an Appointment with Arizona Liver Health

While HCV is a serious disease which can cause liver scarring, cirrhosis and even liver cancer over time, this can be prevented when HCV is cured. There has never been a better time to get your HCV treated and cured. At AZ Liver we are able to obtain HCV medications for our patients using existing insurance pathways and/or patient assistance.

Call Arizona Liver Health at 480-470-4000 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced providers who can help diagnose your liver condition and put you on a path toward improved outcomes.