A Silent Disease and Ongoing Concern
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver. It results from infection with HCV, which is spread primarily through contact with the blood of an infected person. Hepatitis C can be either "acute" or "chronic."
Acute HCV infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months of exposure to HCV. For most people, acute infection leads to chronic infection.
Chronic HCV infection is a long-term illness that occurs when HCV remains in a person's body. HCV infection can lead to serious liver problems, including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) or liver cancer.
Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the U.S., hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. Today, most people in the U.S. become infected with HCV by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. The presence of HCV can be detected with a blood test from a healthcare provider. The CDC recommends any person with a potential risk factor, including anyone born between 1945 - 1965, get tested for chronic HCV.
Decades can pass between the time of acquiring HCV infection and the development of HCV-related liver disease such as cirrhosis.
(Source: CDC and WHO)
Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons.