What Causes Hepatitis C?


Quick Answer

Hepatitis C is caused by the HCV virus that infects the liver, according to the American Liver Foundation. Between 75 and 80 percent of the individuals with this virus develop chronic hepatitis. There are 4 million people in the United States as of 2014 living with hepatitis C.

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Full Answer

HCV is a blood-borne pathogen, according to MedlinePlus. It is transmitted through needle sticks or contact with the blood of someone who has hepatitis C and an open cut or sore. Risk factors include sharing needles for use of street drugs, unprotected sex, kidney dialysis or sharing personal items, such as razors or toothbrushes. Medical workers who work with blood on their job have an increased risk. In the United States, blood transfusions have been screened since 1992, making receiving HCV through a transfusion rare. A child born to a mother with hepatitis C is at a higher risk for the HCV virus.

Hepatitis C does not spread through casual contact with infected individuals, according to WebMD. The disease does not pass through hugs, kisses, coughs, sneezes or sharing food or drinks. Individuals living with a person infected with HCV have little chance of infection with the disease unless they engage in risky behaviors.

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