Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C virus

Template:Taxobox begin placement virus Template:Taxobox group iv entry

Species:Hepatitis C virus

|} Hepatitis C is a form of hepatitis (liver inflammation) caused by a virus, the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Before the virus was discovered, in 1989, the syndrome was initially referred to as a "non-A-non-B hepatitis".



In most cases, carriers with chronic acute hepatitis C infection have no symptoms. However, over time this blood borne virus can cause long term damage to the liver, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Severe liver damage may not develop for 10-40 years after infection. Certain medical phenomena has been associated with the presence of hepatitis C; some are thyroiditis, cryoglobulinemia and some types of glomerulonephritis. It is important to remember that every carrier is different, and no two cases are the same. Some carriers begin to develop symptoms after only a few years. These can be flu-like, but just don't go away. They include any combination of body aches, headaches, nightsweats, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, nausea and mild abdominal pain. There can also be upper right quadrant pain. As stated before, not all carriers will present the same symptoms. Each person is different, with a different set of experiences.

Most people are not aware that they carry the hepatitis virus until something causes them to require a physical exam, and then something routine is done, such as blood work. There are also cases where carriers have found out through blood donation or plasma donation that their blood carried a positive response to a HCV test.

There are several risk factors that qualify one for a higher risk of exposure to HCV virus. They include

  • Needle sharing.Those who inject drugs are at high-risk for getting hepatitis C because they may be sharing needles and other drug paraphernalia, which may be contaminated with HCV-infected blood. In fact, 60% to 80% of all IV drug users have hepatitis C infection.
  • Unprotected sex. Although HCV is not classed as a sexually transmitted disease, there is some transmission due to sexual activity. This is often as a result of infection with an actual STD. Many STD's cause sores or wounds around the genitals, and thus sexual activity will lead to the spread of HCV. It is important to note however, that the spread is due to blood-blood contact, rather than the presence of the virus in vaginal fluid or semen.
  • Multiple piercings or tattoos. Tattooing dye or needles used in tattooing or body piercing can carry HCV-infected blood from one customer to another if the tattoo/body piercing parlors do not use sterile techniques or supplies.

(Tattoos done non-professionally, as in a penal institution, are of great concern.)

  • Blood transfusions BEFORE 1992. Those who have had a blood transfusion before 1992 and hemophiliacs who have received clotting factor before that time are at risk because blood banks did not fully test the blood supply for hepatitis C before that year. Today, however, the risk of getting hepatitis C from a blood transfusion is almost zero.
  • Other risk factors include needlestick injuries, especially among health care workers, hemodialysis (equipment that filters blood may not be adequately sterilized between patients), and organ transplant before 1992.


Blood contact is a prime mode of transmission. Moreover, it is spread vertically (from mother to child). Risk of transmission to a neonate from a mother with Hepatitis C is 5%. Risk is related to the mothers viral load at the time of delivery with a higher viral load confering an increased risk for transmission. Hepatitis C is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The CDC reports that only 1.5% of partners of hepatitis C carriers test positive for the disease. In most developed countries, it is usually seen primarily in intravenous drug users.


The hepatitis C virus is a single-stranded, enveloped, positive sense RNA virus in the flaviviridae family. When circulating in the bloodstream, it binds to receptors on liver tissue, most prominently the receptor for low density lipoprotein (LDL).


Hepatitis C infects an estimated 170 million persons worldwide and 4 million persons in the United States. There are around 35,000 to 185,000 new cases of infections a year in the United States. Co-infection with HIV is common and rates among HIV positive populations are higher.

Currently, serological tests are available to check for infection. In addition, PCR can be used for more sensitivity and to elucidate a genotypes for the infection. There are eleven groups, divided by locations. Genotype 1a is the most common in North America, and 1b in Europe.

The infection is spread by blood exchange and, less commonly, sexual contact. Before serological tests became available, it was often caused by the use of medical products derived from blood and by blood transfusion.

Though hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C have similar names (because they all cause liver disease) the viruses themselves are quite different. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.


Treatment is mainly based on interferon alpha (IFNα), combined with other drugs; though this action does not guarantee results. Currently, the preferred treatment is pegylated interferon together with ribavirin. Studies have shown sustained cure rates of 75% or better in people with genotypes 2 or 3 HCV (which is easier to treat) and about 50% in those with genotype 1.

Individuals with Hepatitis C should be vacinnated for Hepatitis A and B if they have not yet been exposed to these viruses.

It is well known that alcohol makes HCV associated liver disease progress faster, and makes interferon treatment less effective.

Hepatitis C co-infection with HIV

Approximately 40% of U.S. patients infected with HIV are also infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), mainly because both viruses share the same routes of transmission. HCV is one of most important causes of chronic liver disease in the U.S. It has been demonstrated in clinical studies that HIV infection causes a more rapid progression of chronic hepatitis C to cirrhosis and liver failure in HIV-infected persons.

Alternative and experimental therapies

Several "alternative therapies" purport to reduce the liver's duties, rather than treat the virus itself, thereby slowing the course of the disease or keeping the quality of life of the person. As an example, extract of silybum marianum and licorice are sold for their HCV related effects; the first is said to provide some generic help to hepatic functions, and the second to have a mild antiviral effect and to raise blood pressure.

It is always important to tell your doctors all medications you are currently taking as well as herbal ones. If you are a post transplant patient it is even more important to notify your doctor of these herbal medications because silybum marianum (aka silymarin or Milk thistle) may inhibit the metabolism of certain drugs[1] (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11038151tle).

There are new drugs under development like the protease inhibitor BILN 2061 or VX 950 that are looking promising but are all in early phase of developement[2] (http://www.ismc2004.dk/index.php/Session_2A__The_discovery_of_B/258/0/) [3] (http://www.vpharm.com/Pressreleases2005/pr051005.html). Unfortunately, the BILN 2061 had to be discontinued due to safety problems early in the clinical testing. Some more modern new drugs that provide some support in treating HCV are Albuferon, Zadaxin, and DAPY. DAPY rhymes with happy. Morpholino antisense oligos have shown promise against HCV in animal models [4] (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=12883495).

All of these are not approved remedies and have not yet demonstrated their efficacy in clinical trials.

Immunoglobulins against the Hepatis C virus exist and newer types are under development. Thus far, their roles have been unclear as they have not been shown to help in clearing chronic infection or in the prevention of infection with acute exposures (ie. needlesticks). They do have a limited role in transplant patients.


Celebrities Naomi Judd and Pamela Anderson have famously been infected with hepatitis C and gone public with their experiences.

Francisco Varela, biologist, recorded his experiences, including a liver transplant, in "Intimate Distances"1.

10,000-20,000 deaths a year in the United States are from HCV; expectations are that this will increase, as those who were infected by transfusion before HCV test will become apparent.

An August 2003 Harper's article2 by Wil S. Hylton estimated that "somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of American prisoners are, at this very moment, infected with hepatitis C."


External links

Health science - Medicine - Gastroenterology
Diseases of the esophagus - stomach
Halitosis - Nausea - Vomiting - GERD - Achalasia - Esophageal cancer - Esophageal varices - Peptic ulcer - Abdominal pain - Stomach cancer - Functional dyspepsia
Diseases of the liver - pancreas - gallbladder - biliary tree
Hepatitis - Cirrhosis - NASH - PBC - PSC - Budd-Chiari syndrome - Hepatocellular carcinoma - Pancreatitis - Pancreatic cancer - Gallstones - Cholecystitis
Diseases of the small intestine
Peptic ulcer - Intussusception - Malabsorption (e.g. celiac disease, lactose intolerance, fructose malabsorption, Whipple's disease) - Lymphoma
Diseases of the colon
Diarrhea - Appendicitis - Diverticulitis - Diverticulosis - IBD (Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis) - Irritable bowel syndrome - Constipation - Colorectal cancer - Hirschsprung's disease - Pseudomembranous colitis
de:Hepatitis C

es:Hepatitis C fr:Hépatite C it:Epatite virale C pl:Wirus zapalenia wątroby typu C


  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (https://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)


  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Personal tools