Viruses that contain RNA as their genetic information are called RNA viruses, and of this family, Hepatitis C is a prime example. RNA viruses have similar shapes and perform similar functions as other types of viruses, but they store their critical reproductive information in RNA strands. In contrast, most viruses house essential genetic information in DNA molecules.
Hepatitis C and other RNA viruses have similar life cycles to those of other viruses. They attach to host cells of victims and then enter their bodies via penetration. This enables RNA and DNA viruses to reproduce genetic material and create protective coatings, or capsids, before exiting through cell walls.
However, RNA viruses are generally longer-lived than DNA viruses and target immune systems. RNA molecules are generally much less stable and unpredictable than DNA molecules. This gives them a mutagenic quality, which allows them to reproduce more quickly and evolve more rapidly than DNA molecules.
The constantly changing nature of RNA strands makes it difficult, if not impossible, for infected organisms to develop immunity to the virus. According to Dartmouth College, there are two types of RNA viruses. One variety of viruses have sensory strands of RNA as their genetic material, while the other variety contains antisense strands that pair with opposites. Hepatitis C classifies as a sensory RNA virus.