Hepatitis C is serious business: Know the facts
Hepatitis C (Hep C, also called HCV for Hep C virus) is a contagious form of liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus, which causes liver inflammation and kills healthy liver cells.
- Hepatitis C is one of the most frequent causes of viral hepatitis in the United States.
- It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
- Hepatitis C is the #1 cause of liver transplants and can lead to cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer or even liver failure.
- Anyone can get Hepatitis C, but baby boomers (people born from 1945 to 1965) are five times more likely to be infected.
How common is Hepatitis C?
An estimated 3-5 million people in the United States have a chronic (longtime) Hepatitis C virus infection. Most people do not know they are infected because they don’t look or feel sick.
Know the importance of Hepatitis C testing
Hepatitis C is a silent disease. Symptoms can take decades to develop. When they finally do appear, it’s usually a sign of serious liver problems. Though people with the Hepatitis C virus may seem healthy, liver damage is often happening silently.
The good news is that if Hepatitis C is detected early, treatment can prevent it from becoming chronic. If the disease is chronic, treatment can still slow the progression of liver damage. The problem is that many Hepatitis C symptoms are common to other illnesses. That’s why testing for Hepatitis C is so critical—and why there’s been a big advance in official health guidelines that push for more people to get tested.
Request testing from your doctor, or learn how you can order your own hepatitis C screen without a doctor’s order using My Lab ReQuest™.