Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Chronic Hepatitis C is one of the leading causes of liver disease and is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the United States. It is estimated that 3.2 million people in the United States are living with Hepatitis C. Most do not know they are infected.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection; however, you can take steps to protect yourself from becoming infected with Hepatitis C. To reduce the risk of becoming infected with the Hepatitis C virus:
- Do not share needles or other equipment to inject cosmetic substances, drugs, or steroids
- Do not use personal items that may have come into contact with an infected person’s blood, such as razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, or glucose monitors
- Do not get tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting
Most people with Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms and do not know they are infected. If you think you might have been exposed to Hepatitis C, or were born between 1945 and 1965, talk to your doctor about getting tested. By knowing your Hepatitis C testing results, you can get medical care early, take care of your liver, and take action to avoid spreading the virus to others.
Hepatitis C can be treated and cured. Almost everyone living with HCV can now be cured with a one-pill-a-day regimen in eight-to-twelve weeks. Please see Marin County's Hepatitis C Testing and Treatment Resources page for information about how and where you can get a free HCV test and discuss treatment options.