Hep C patient receiving a hug

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C Frequently
Asked Questions (FAQs)

Many people who are infected do not have any symptoms. However, sometimes symptoms do appear:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue (feeling tired even if you've had a normal amount of rest and activity)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea (upset stomach)
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain (pain in the gut)
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellow coloring of the eyes or skin)

Yes. Not only can patients with hepatitis C be treated, but they can also be cured. “Cured” means that the hep C virus is not detectable in your blood months after treatment has ended. Relapse or reinfection is still possible and you can still have liver disease even after you have been cured, so stay in contact with your doctor.

Direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments are considered safe and effective and are the current standard of care for those with chronic hep C. DAA treatments can cure hep C within a range of 8-24 weeks and have fewer side effects than older, interferon-based treatments.

A variety of resources are available to help make hep C treatments affordable. If you have health insurance, call your insurance company to have them explain your benefits and coverage for hep C treatments.
There is help for most patients even if you don't have insurance or need help with your co-pays, or if you have been denied treatment coverage.

Hep C treatments are prescription drugs approved by the FDA and are rigorously tested for safety and efficacy. If you decide to seek treatment, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of treatment and tell your doctor about all the medications you take (including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements) and any health conditions you might have.

There are ways to lessen your risk of getting the hep C virus. Some of these include:

  • Avoid sharing needles and injecting or snorting drugs
  • Don't share razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, or other personal care items that may have come into contact with infected blood
  • Don't use tattoo or piercing equipment that's been used on someone else
See the list of risk factors for getting hep C.

Yes, you can get hep C through sexual contact, although it's rare. Research shows that the risk of getting
hep C is higher among people who have multiple partners or partners infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), a sexually transmitted disease (STD). To reduce the risk of spreading hep C, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using latex condoms. Condoms, when used properly, are one way to protect against STDs. Always remember to practice safe sex.

No, hep C isn't spread by sharing eating utensils, food or drinks, or from shaking or holding hands with someone who’s infected. Hep C is passed from person to person when an uninfected person’s blood comes in contact with infected blood.

Some US adults with hep C use milk thistle as a supplement to conventional medicine. However, the US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the use of prescription drugs, hasn’t approved alternative medicine for the treatment of hep C. Talk to your doctor before starting any treatment, including over-the-counter or herbal products.

No, without testing, it’s not possible to know if someone has the disease. Testing for hep C is available in doctors’ offices and testing centers.

Yes. There are 6 main genotypes of hep C. In the United States, about 75% of people with hep C have genotype 1. Some treatments work against all hep C genotypes, whereas others only work on some genotypes. If you and your doctor determine that treatment is right for you, your genotype will factor into the treatment decision.

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