Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver and often has no symptoms, but it can still cause chronic liver disease over time. Hepatitis C often exists without symptoms. Only about 5% of people who have hepatitis C are aware that they have it, and therefore they continue to infect others. When symptoms of acute hepatitis do exist, they are generally mild and flu-like, and may not require treatment. Even if your symptoms go away, you may still be infected with hepatitis C if you don't get treated. In fact, hepatitis C can last for decades, and can progress to chronic infection or liver disease.
You can get hepatitis C if you come in contact with blood carrying the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C results when the hepatitis C virus (HCV) enters your bloodstream and infects your liver. You can get the virus from needles, syringes, or other tools used for injections, as well as from razor blades, toothbrushes, or tattooing or body piercing equipment. Sexual transmission or transmission from mother to infant can occur, but is relatively rare. In the past, many people were infected with hepatitis C through blood transfusions. Now donated blood is routinely checked for hepatitis C so the risk of acquiring the infection through a transfusion is very small.
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