An estimated 90,000 people in Arizona are living with hepatitis C, and about 10,000 new cases are reported each year. But most people who have hepatitis C don’t know it.
That’s why we recommend getting tested for this virus, which causes inflammation of the liver and is the leading cause of liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is the most common of five viruses that can cause hepatitis. It can be spread through blood-to-blood contact, such as using non-sterile drug use equipment, receiving non-professional tattoos, or receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992. It cannot be transmitted by methods many might suspect, such as coughing, sneezing, kissing, or even sharing eating utensils.
Most people who acquire the hepatitis C virus have mild symptoms or none at all. It can take many years from the time a person is infected before symptoms like extreme fatigue, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, or liver failure occur.
While there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C – there are vaccines for hepatitis A and B – the disease is curable with medication. The consequences of having untreated hepatitis C can be severe, including chronic hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver. As many as 5% may die from liver disease or liver cancer.
That’s why it’s important to be tested at least once. Those who are pregnant should get tested during their pregnancies, and those at high risk should get tested periodically.
Please visit our website for more information on hepatitis C and other types of hepatitis.