Hepatitis C is curable, but only if you get treated!

Treatments are short, effective and have few side effects.

  • Hepatitis C, also known as Hep C or HCV, is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver.
  • Hep C can cause the liver to swell and can lead to severe liver damage and diseases such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75-85% of people who get the virus will develop a long-lasting infection.

Although there is no vaccine for Hep C, most people who have it can be cured with proper treatment.

Hep C is contagious and spreads through contact with blood from another person. This can happen by:

  • Sharing needles, including finger-stick glucose monitoring machines
  • Sharing “works” or injection equipment such as needles, syringes, cookers, cotton, or rinse water.
  • Sharing items such as razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers
  • Touching or coming into contact with an open wound, blood, or dry blood
  • Having sex or sexual contact without a condom (especially if you have multiple sex partners or if you have rough sex, your risk is greater)
  • Getting tattoos or piercings with unsterilized tools
  • HCV-infected mother may give it to her child during pregnancy or at birth

Most people who have a new Hep C infection DO NOT show signs or symptoms or have mild symptoms.
When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dark urine
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Joint pain
  • Jaundice (yellow color in the skin or eyes)

If you think or know you have Hep C, getting treatment now will keep it from getting worse and stop you from spreading the virus to friends and family.

Is there a cure for Hep C?

Yes, Hep C is curable, including those who also have HIV or other diseases as well.

  • Treatments are now shorter (about 2-3 months), more effective, and have fewer side effects.
  • Pills are generally taken orally once day.
  • 95% of people with Hep C can be cured with proper treatment.
  • List of Approved Hep C (and B) Treatments

What does it mean to clear Hep C?

Whether through treatment or on your own, clearing Hep C means that the virus is no longer active and damaging your body.

If I am infected with HIV, can I still be treated for Hep C?

  • Yes, people who are infected with HIV can still get Hep C treatment.
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  • It is important to talk to your provider about ALL medications that you are taking because some combinations of HIV and Hep C medications can damage the liver.
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  • For more information on HIV infections and treatments, click here.

Prevention & Risks FAQs

Yes, Hep C can be prevented by avoiding contact with infected blood.

Yes, there is a risk of getting Hep C this way, but it is not very likely.

Yes, people can get Hep C from needles in tattoo or body piercing shops if the equipment is not sterilized and has touched the blood of someone infected with Hep C.

Yes, but the chances of contracting Hep C during unprotected sex is very low.

Even if you have major depression, bipolar disorder, cardiac problems, diabetes, or other psychological or health-related problems, you can still receive Hep C treatment.

Yes, you can still get re-infected with Hep C even after being cured.

Hepatitis A & B Vaccinations FAQs

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people who inject drugs or are sexually active with someone who has hepatitis B should get vaccinated.

  • You can get hepatitis A and B vaccines in a combination shot called TWINRIX, which is a vaccine against both Hepatitis A and B and is given over three doses.
  • You can also get Hep A and B shots separately at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy.

Each hepatitis virus is different and prevention is key to a healthy liver and a healthy body.

Hep C with HIV FAQs

HIV/HCV coinfection means that a person has both the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This triples your risk of getting liver disease, liver failure, or dying.

  • 50-90% of people with HIV who inject drugs are also infected with Hep C.
  • Click here for more information on Hep C and HIV coinfection.
  • Yes, you can still get hepatitis A and B vaccinations even if you have both Hep C and HIV.
  • Having HIV or Hep C DOES NOT prevent you from getting hepatitis A or B!!

Testing FAQs

  • You were born between the years 1945-1965
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people born in this period, also referred to as “Baby Boomers” should be tested for Hep C because they may have become infected with blood or blood products before widespread screening of the blood supply was put into practice. In 1989, a screening test was developed to test for the Hep C virus, which was rapidly put into use to screen blood donations.
  • are/were currently or formerly injecting drugs, including people who injected once or a few times many years ago
  • have certain medical conditions, including persons who:
  • received clotting factors made before 1987
  • were ever on long-term dialysis (blood purification)
  • have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
  • received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
  • also have HIV infection
  • have a Hep C-positive mother
  • have been exposed to Hep C-positive blood after being stuck with a needle or sharp object
  • You should get re-tested if you are actively sharing needles, syringes, cookers, cotton or rinse water or have come into contact with someone else’s blood.
     
  • Hep C is detected by two blood-drawn tests:
    • First, the antibody test checks if you have been infected with the Hep C virus at some point, which causes your body to make antibodies against the virus.
    • Second, the viral load test or RNA test checks if you have the virus in your blood to learn whether you have an ongoing infection, meaning the virus is presently causing harm to your body.
  • A rapid Hep C test result can come back to you in 20 minutes.
  • A regular blood test can take up to a week for results to come back.

Please consult your doctor if you are positive for Hep C. More testing may be necessary to see if you will need treatment.

 

Treatment FAQs

  • You should get Hep C treatment as soon as possible, but it is never too late to get treatment, even if it is months or years after you are diagnosed, so long as your health does not get worse.
  • There may be a few side effects, but everyone experiences side effects differently. However, most people do very well on Hep C treatment and do not experience bothersome effects.
  • If you are worried, talk to your Hep C provider about the best treatment for you.
 
  • If you are not medically insured, ask your Hep C provider or clinic about treatment payment plans for which you may qualify.
  • Medicaid insurance covers Hep C treatment.
  • For more options, please see our Resource section.

You should be able to keep up with your daily schedule. Once you clear Hep C, you will NOT need to take anymore medication for it.

No, people around you will see you as you have been because current treatments are shorter and have fewer side effects than past treatments.

 
 

If you want your quality of life to be better, your body to be healthier, and the people you love to be safer, get treated.

 
  • Yes, you can still get treated for Hep C even if you are using drugs and alcohol. However, you should try not to use either during your treatment.
  • Talk with your doctor if you are drinking alcohol or using drugs, or if you are taking any herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications, or planning on starting new medications.
  • Consult with your provider on what is the best plan of action to take.
  • If you decide to stop your current treatment because of discomfort from side effects or insurance coverage issues, please consult your provider for another treatment plan. It is important for your health to cure Hep C as soon as possible.
  • Do not let your inability to pay for health care prevent you from seeking treatment or continuing it!
  • Notify your doctor as soon as you can if you have been incarcerated so that you can still continue your treatment. If you are already in prison, still ask to contact your Hep C provider. For more information on California prison rights, click here or visit the CDC fact sheet on Hep C and Incarceration.
  • For the Spanish version of the flyer, click here.

Call your doctor if you are out of medications for whatever reason.

 

If you do not have a mailing address, please ask your provider if you can arrange a location to pick up your medications.

 

Yes, Hep C is curable, including those who also have HIV or other diseases as well.

  • Treatments are now shorter (about 2-3 months), more effective, and have fewer side effects.
  • Pills are generally taken orally once day.
  • 95% of people with Hep C can be cured with proper treatment.
  • Click here for a list of approved Hep C (and B) treatments.
  • Whether through treatment or on your own, clearing Hep C means that the virus is no longer active and damaging your body.
 
  • Yes, people who are infected with HIV can still get Hep C treatment.
  • It is important to talk to your provider about ALL medications that you are taking because some combinations of HIV and Hep C medications can damage the liver.
  • For more information on HIV infections and treatments, click here.