Understanding
Hepatitis C

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What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C (hep C) is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver.

  • is caused by the hep C virus (HCV)
  • spreads when the blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected
  • begins as an acute infection (lasting less than 6 months)
  • becomes chronic (long-lasting) in more than half of people who become infected
  • often doesn't present any symptoms, but can lead to serious health complications
  • can be cured

Chronic liver inflammation continually causes damage to the liver leading to fibrosis, which is the first stage of liver scarring.

Once you have hepatitis C, the virus constantly replicates, making copies of itself trillions of times every day. These new copies of the virus continue to attack the liver cells, causing inflammation, scarring, and can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis (pronounced si-roh-sis) and potentially liver cancer.

Liver with Fibrosis Liver with Fibrosis Liver with Fibrosis

Fibrosis
(liver scaring)

over time,
can lead to

Liver with Cirrhosis Liver with Cirrhosis Liver with Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis
(more scar tissue
than liver tissue)

If you think you may be at risk for hep C, it's important to talk to your healthcare professional about getting tested.

Hep C fact Hep C fact Hep C fact

Many people with hep C show no symptoms.

Why is the liver
so
important?

The liver is the second largest organ in the body and carries out many functions to help keep you healthy. The liver’s main function is to clean your blood of toxins by producing bile to break down fat into energy. In hep C, liver scarring (fibrosis) can prevent the liver from doing its job.

Liver inside the body Liver inside the body Liver inside the body

The liver is about the size of a football, reddish in color, and located below your lungs, above your stomach.

What are the stages of

liver damage?

There are different stages of liver fibrosis, each of which can be described with a fibrosis score. Your healthcare professional uses this score to determine how much liver scarring you have, based on several factors. Ask your healthcare professional any questions you may have about your fibrosis score.

Tap through the following graphic to see the different stages of fibrosis from F0 (no fibrosis) to F4 (cirrhosis).

F0

Healthy liver

F1

Mild Fibrosis

Scar tissue is present

F2

Moderate Fibrosis

Scar tissue starts to connect

F3

Severe Fibrosis

Scar tissue has spread to the point where structure is affected

F4

Cirrhosis

The liver is taken over by scar tissue and may not be able to do its job

In people with
hepatitis C

approximately
5-25%

will develop cirrhosis
within 10-20 years

up to
4%

with cirrhosis will develop
liver cancer with each passing year

Hep C patient exercising Hep C patient exercising Hep C patient exercising

Talk to your healthcare professional about hep C

Be prepared to help guide
the conversation.

Start here
Hep C patient stretching Hep C patient stretching Hep C patient stretching

What are the
symptoms of hep C?

What to look for before
a diagnosis.

Find out