Hepatitis C

What is it?

Hepatitis C is a virus that is carried in the blood and can lead to Cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver – the main cause of liver cancer or liver failure. You can become infected with Hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood, saliva, semen or vaginal fluid of an infected person.

What are the symptoms?

Some people do not have any symptoms at all or do not develop any for months or years after being infected. Some people may feel slightly unwell when they become infected and 3 in 4 people will develop a chronic long-term infection if left untreated.

A chronic Hepatitis C infection can affect people in a variety of ways:

Some people remain well throughout their life and will not develop liver damage

Some people only develop mild to moderate liver damage, with or without symptoms – symptoms can include tiredness, muscle aches, nausea, alcohol intolerance and pain around the liver

About 1 in 5 people will go on to develop Cirrhosis

In some people, severe liver damage can lead to primary liver cancer or complete liver failure, and the need for a liver transplant

How do I get tested?

You can visit any one of our centres across Walsall. Hepatitis C is diagnosed by a simple blood test.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment is usually a combination of drugs taken for 6 or 12 months. If left untreated, Hepatitis C can lead to Cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

How can I prevent it?

There is no vaccination against Hepatitis C but there are ways of reducing the risk of being infected. You can protect yourself from Hepatitis C by using a condom every time you have vaginal, anal or oral sex.

If you would like to know more about Hepatitis C, visit the NHS Choices website.

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