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Hepatitis C Basics

Let’s Talk Hep C Basics

Millions are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), the general public remains confused and generally unaware.

What is Hepatitis-C?

Hepa means liver and Titis means swelling, so hepatitis literally means swelling of the liver. There are many forms of Hepatitis, but Hepatitis-C is a particular virus that attacks the liver.

What are some hepatitis C symptoms?

Hepatitis-C can be asymptomatic for years or even decades, so relying on symptoms is NOT an effective way to determine status. That being said, two of the most common symptoms of hepatitis C are fatigue and joint pain.

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C?

There are vaccines for hep A and hep B, but there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

Where should I get current information about hepatitis C?

It’s important to be very careful when searching the internet about hepatitis C. Make sure the info you are reading is current. Hepatitis C information has changed dramatically over the last couple years because of new treatments, lab tests, and procedures.

My provider drew blood, if I had hep C wouldn’t it show up in the lab results?

No, the test for hepatitis C is very specific and not routinely run. If you don’t specifically ask your provider to test you for hepatitis C, then you likely haven’t been tested.

How soon after diagnosis should I be treated?

Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease, and can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death if left untreated, however hepatitis C moves fairly slowly so there is no need to run to the Emergency Room, or make an urgent trip to the doctor’s office. Perhaps making an appointment with your family doctor within weeks of diagnosis is best.

I heard the hep C treatment is very harsh is that right?

No, you likely heard about the old treatment courses for hepatitis C, it often involved injections and pills that caused severe side effects. In October 2014 the FDA approved the first combination pill to treat hepatitis C, since then several more antivirals are now on the market. These new drugs usually involve one pill a day, the side effects are minimal, and cure rates are up to 99%.

Who should be tested for hepatitis C?

Everyone with blood…(Keep in mind I’m a radical advocate on this one). You can learn more about hep C testing recommendations here.

Is hepatitis C sexually transmitted?

Theoretically blood can be transferred during sex, but it is unlikely. Rough sex, men with HIV, and multiple partners increase incidence of hepatitis C transmission during sex.

If I have recently been diagnosed with hepatitis C who should I tell?

You should tell your doctors and pharmacists. This is to determine treatment and to make sure your current medicines are the safe for your liver. Other than that, disclosing your HCV status is up to you.

Why does the CDC recommend all baby boomers be tested for Hepatitis-C?

Baby Boomers are the nickname for people born between 1945 and 1965. Because this age group is 5 times more likely than the general population to have Hepatitis-C.1-2

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Hepatitis C FAQs for the Public. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at:
  2. Hepatitis C: Why People Born from 1945-1965 Should Get Tested. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: