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What does "active hepatitis C" mean?

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Hepatitis C is an infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus, or HCV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Active hepatitis C means the infection is active in the body as opposed to inactive antibodies remaining in the body after the infection clears.

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The virus is spread by contact with an infected person's blood, explains WebMD. Transmission cannot occur by casual contact such as kissing or sharing food. Infected individuals often experience no symptoms for many years and may not know they are infected until liver damage is present. Individuals who develop symptoms may experience fatigue, joint pain, belly pain, itchy skin, sore muscles, dark urine or jaundice.

Treatment for hepatitis C is done with antiviral medications aimed at clearing the virus from the body, indicates Mayo Clinic. As of 2015, researchers have been making strides in treating hepatitis C by combining antiviral medications to establish formulas that are more effective with less severe side effects and shorter treatment times. Due to the speed at which research is developing, recommendations for medication and treatment regimens are complex and often changing. In cases of severe liver damage, a liver transplant may be necessary. A liver transplant does not cure the virus; however, so treatment to clear the virus from the body remains imperative.

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