Man and woman reading about hepatitis C

What Is
Hepatitis C?

Understanding hepatitis C

Hepatitis C (hep C)—sometimes called HCV—is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver and is usually spread when the blood of an infected person comes into contact with the blood of someone who is not infected. Hep C begins as an acute infection (lasting less than 6 months), but in approximately 75%-85% of people, the infection becomes chronic (long-lasting).

Many people infected with the virus don’t feel any symptoms, yet hep C can lead to serious health complications. Chronic liver inflammation over a period of time can damage the liver, leading to fibrosis, the first stage of liver scarring. Over time, this scarring can develop into a more serious liver disease called cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis occurs when the scar tissue has continued to build up and replaces most of the normal liver tissue, which prevents it from doing its job to keep the body healthy. If you think you may be at risk for having hep C, it's important to talk to your doctor about getting tested.

Liver inside the body

Why your liver
is so important

The liver is the second largest organ in your body and carries out many functions to help keep the body healthy, including processing nutrients from food and removing toxins from the blood.

Stages of liver damage

This chart shows the different stages of liver fibrosis. Your doctor uses the fibrosis score to determine the extent of liver scarring based on several factors. The images show a description of the different stages of fibrosis.

Click or tap on the following graphic to see the stages from F0 (no fibrosis) to F4 (cirrhosis).

F0

F4

F0

Healthy Liver

In people with
chronic hepatitis C

will develop
cirrhosis over
20-30 years

with
cirrhosis

will develop
liver cancer with
each passing year

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