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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

Most cases of hepatitis C have no symptoms, because the viral infection is self-limiting; the body does not know it is infected.

The hepatitis C virus can also be spread when someone has sex with someone who has it. This is the first time that hepatitis C can ever be transmitted through sexual transmission. It is important that people who may have sex with others who have hepatitis C take extra protective measures against infection — such as by using a condom when sex occurs with a person with hepatitis C. Sex also can spread hepatitis C to people with other diseases. For example, an infected blood transfusion may lead to meningitis. If you are at highest risk of getting infected with hepatitis C, you should get tested for hepatitis C if you are a person who has sex with many partners, or who has been exposed to semen or blood that may have come into contact with an infected person.

How much vaccine does a hepatitis C vaccine contain? A hepatitis C vaccine consists of two doses, separated by at least six months. One dose (inactivated dose) will eliminate the personís hepatitis C virus. The second dose contains a live virus that will give the body time to fight the virus. The second dose can give protection more quickly than the first dose because the virus will be weakened as time passes. A person can get hepatitis C from contact with infected blood or semen. When someone has hepatitis C: Most likely, the hepatitis C virus will be present in the body within a few days of being exposed to any contaminated blood, semen, or vaginal fluids, including vaginal fluid that has contact with the infected person�s hair and nails (called hair-to-nail or nail-to-hair). The virus in blood is often more active at this time. Hepatitis C usually is more visible in the skin, so even after several days from first exposure, people who have symptoms can usually tell whether they got infected. The virus in the semen may be less active, and can't be seen until some time later. Some people with hepatitis C who have sex have signs and symptoms that they can recognize quickly, like fever, chills, rash, headache, abdominal pain, and nausea, but they're usually mild.

Who should receive a hepatitis C vaccine? People who are at high risk, such as newborns, or who have sex with people who have hepatitis C, should get a hepatitis C vaccine. This vaccine can prevent the virus from spreading around the body, and can even help reduce the risk of getting an infection. You can get hepatitis C from anyone who has this or any other hepatitis C infection: A blood transfusion

Contact with semen, oral fluid, or vaginal fluid or blood from someone already having the infection

There is usually no cure for this type of infection. However, medications used on an infected person can help the virus control itself by destroying infected cells and preventing new ones from forming.

What are the signs and symptoms of hepatitis C?

Signs and symptoms of hepatitis C include:

Fatigue

Aching

Mild fever, headache, muscle aches, and sore skin

Swelling around the mouth and throat

Skin rash, red, purple, or other colored sores

Vomiting

Headaches

The symptoms of hepatitis C can appear suddenly or appear as chronic symptoms that occur over time. These chronic symptoms can include:

Weight gain

Poor eating habits

Loss of appetite

Loss of energy, especially after a meal

Fever that starts and lasts for more than several days

Hemangiomas in your liver, a type of lump in your liver that may not heal

How is hepatitis C treated?

Doctors use several medications to stop the liver disease from progressing and to treat its underlying causes. These medications may cause side effects, which you may want to talk to your doctor about.

One type of medication is a pill that is given without a needle. It is given twice a day. The pill will prevent the liver cells from destroying the infected cells. For most people who are treated with this treatment, the treatment lasts three to six months. If you have any side effects, see your doctor.

Another medication is a steroid called prednisone (Pradaxa). It is injected into the injection spot under the skin. It can cure people if taken daily. For example, to prevent liver damage, prednisone is often used for three months for people who are taking prednisone for a long period of time.

Another form of treatment called protease inhibitors (PIs), which can be used for people with hepatitis C who are taking steroids, can help prevent the liver disease from progressing. They work by stopping the body from using protein, or the substance that makes up cells, that makes up almost all cells.