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Definition of Hepatitis C

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Hepatitis C: Inflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is usually spread via blood transfusion (rare), hemodialysis, and needle sticks. The damage hepatitis C does to the liver can lead to cirrhosis and its complications as well as cancer. Transmission of the virus by sexual contact is rare. At least half of hepatitis C patients develop chronic hepatitis C infection. Diagnosis is made by blood test. Treatment and probably cure is via antiviral drugs and is effective in over 90% of patients. Chronic hepatitis C was frequently treated with injectable interferon, in combination with antiviral oral medications, but now is most often treated with oral antivirals alone. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. Previously known as non-A, non-B hepatitis.

Reviewed on 12/12/2018

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