Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, sometimes leading to serious liver damage. Hepatitis C infection is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The infection spreads when blood contaminated with the virus enters the bloodstream of an uninfected person.
Globally, HCV exists in several distinct forms, known as genotypes. Seven distinct HCV genotypes and more than 67 subtypes have been identified.
Symptoms and Signs
Many patients are asymptomatic and do not have jaundice, although some have malaise, anorexia, fatigue, and nonspecific upper abdominal discomfort. Often, the first findings are signs of cirrhosis (eg, splenomegaly, spider nevi, palmar erythema) or complications of cirrhosis (eg, portal hypertension, ascites, encephalopathy).
- Serologic testing
- HCV RNA
Tests for liver damage:
- Magnetic resonance elastography (MRE)
- Transient elastography
- Liver biopsy
- Blood tests
Prognosis depends on whether patients have a sustained virologic response (SVR), ie, no detectable HCV-RNA at 12 and 24 weeks after completion of treatment, depending on the drug regimen used.
Patients who have an SVR have a 99% chance of remaining HCV RNA–negative and are typically considered cured
Direct acting antiviral drugs