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Hepatitis C

What is hepatitis C?

It is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

How do you get it?

Hepatitis C is most often spread by exposure to infected blood, by sharing needles or "works", and from blood products or transfusions received before 1992. The virus can also be spread by contact with other body fluids such as semen and menstrual blood.

Who is at risk of having hepatitis C?

  • Drug users who share needles (syringes or works), even if you experimented only a few times several years ago
  • Drug users who share straws for snorting
  • People who received blood transfusions or organ transplants before 1992
  • Kidney dialysis patients
  • People exposed to infected blood
  • People who have unprotected sex (oral, anal or vaginal) with someone who is infected with the HCV virus
  • People born between 1945 and 1965 
  • See Know More About Hepatitis

Many people infected with hepatitis C have no symptoms until the liver is damaged.

It may take months to years from the time of exposure until a person has an onset of symptoms.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellow skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Urine that is dark in color

Hepatitis C is the leading cause for liver transplants.

How to keep from getting hepatitis C:

  • Do not share needles for injecting or straws for snorting drugs.
  • Make sure anything used for piercing and/or tattooing is used only one time on only one person or is sterilized before using again.
  • Do not use items that may have someone else's blood on them, such as razors and toothbrushes.
  • Use latex condoms (rubbers) every time you have sex.
  • Those who have contact with blood and body fluids in their work environment should use standard precautions for prevention of transmission of any communicable disease.

There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, but it is recommended that people with hepatitis C be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.

There is treatment for certain types of hepatitis C. If you had a blood transfusion before 1992 or if you ever shared needles with someone, let your doctor know. You may need to be tested and treated.

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health does not offer testing or treatment for hepatitis.

Additional Information:

Help4Hep: 1-877-HELP-4-HEP

  • 24-hour hotline for people living with Hep C. Speak with someone to find a free or low cost clinic or to get financial help to pay for testing and treatment.

Hepatitis ABCs- PDF 

Hepatitis C Fact Sheet (Maryland DHMH)

Living With Chronic Hepatitis C Brochure (PDF)

Centers for Disease Control's Hepatitis Page

Viral Hepatitis Clinical Trial Resources:

Johns Hopkins University

The Johns Hopkins Gastroenterology and Hepatology Resource Center

The Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease Center for Viral Hepatitis
Hepatitis C Studies Administrative Coordinator, 410-583-2736

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

To search through all NIH-funded clinical trials:

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Liver Disease Branch at NIH
Hepatitis B and C Patient Care Coordinator, 301-435-6122

University of Maryland

University of Maryland Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Hepatitis C Research Nurse Coordinator, 410-706-2785