What is Hepatitis C?

Everything you need to know about hepatitis is here 

Hepatitis C is a virus (germ) that can cause damage to the liver. If left untreated it can lead to liver cancer. There are many different types of viral hepatitis, for example type A, B, C, D & E. Each type of viral hepatitis have different ways of prevention, transmission and treatment. Hepatitis C is considered a blood borne virus (BBV), which means it is carried in the blood.


Adults who get hepatitis C virus may get symptoms that are like flu, or may feel no symptoms at all. The different types of hepatitis can cause similar symptoms because they all affect the liver. In extreme cases hepatitis C may cause:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the liver
  • Jaundice (eyes and skin look yellow)

Why you need to see a doctor if you have been at risk of Hepatitis C

70% of adults will become chronically infected (the body has not been able to stop the virus in the body) with hepatitis C.  If left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can lead to chronic liver disease or liver cancer. The doctor will be able to provide advice around appropriate treatment.


Hepatitis C can be spread through blood to blood contact (usually from using tattooing, piercing or injecting equipment that is not sterile). Make sure that you do not share any injecting equipment. Ensure that you only attend a tattoo or body piercing services that follow health and safety regulations. Hepatitis C is not usually considered a sexually transmissible infection. However if there is blood to blood contact during sex, there is a risk of infection. There is no vaccine available to prevent hepatitis C.


Some people can live well for many years without realising they have hepatitis C. The only way to know is to have a blood test to check for hepatitis C.


People who have chronic hepatitis C should be monitored regularly by their doctor. See the doctor or a liver specialist for advice about treatment. Treatments are improving and can cure the infection in some people.

For more information

Talk to your doctor or local health clinic.

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