Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be triggered by different viruses, such as Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). HCV is transmitted most commonly through blood and unlike Hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine available to prevent infection. Incubation period is about 2 weeks to 6 months. Hepatitis C has two phases, acute and chronic. The acute phase is within the first 6 months of infection. In some cases, during the acute phase, the body’s immune system is able to fight off the infection, however, if the body’s immune system is unable to overcome the infection, acute HCV can transition into a chronic infection. Once a patient has chronic Hepatitis C, it can then progress to cirrhosis, end stage liver disease, and even cancer.
About 3 million people in the United States are living with Chronic Hepatitis C and only about 50% of patients are aware of their infection. Hepatitis C related deaths have been increasing for nearly a decade because most people don’t know they are infected until complications arise, making it much harder to treat the infection. Thus, it is important to get screened and treated as soon as infection is diagnosed.