• you cannot be vaccinated against hepatitis C
  • there is now a highly effective cure for hepatitis C
  • without treatment, hepatitis C can lead to serious liver disease and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C is a virus transmitted through blood to the liver

Once the hepatitis C virus enters your body and reaches the liver through your blood, it attaches itself to healthy liver cells and multiplies. At this early stage of infection, you may not be aware you have been infected by hepatitis C.

But, if hepatitis C is not diagnosed and managed early enough, the virus can lead to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer or liver failure. 

Simple blood tests can be done to see if the virus is in your blood. You can learn more about testing for hepatitis C 

People with hepatitis C may not feel sick for many years

Hepatitis C is a very slow acting virus. The first six to twelve months of infection is the ‘acute phase’. During this time, the body’s immune system begins fighting the virus. While a few people may experience flu-like symptoms, most people do not experience any illness at all. For about one out of four people, their immune system will clear the virus without any medical treatment.

But, if the virus is still in the body after twelve months, they enter the ‘chronic phase’.

Chronic hepatitis C is a long-term infection

Fortunately, people with chronic hepatitis C can now be cured with antiviral medicines. But, if left untreated, serious liver damage will eventually occur.

Over a 20 to 40 year period, continuing liver damage can result in cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). This long-term cirrhosis can lead to liver failure or liver cancer.

Health outcomes of hepatitis C

 The longer term health outcomes from having hepatitis C can be influenced by a number of factors, such as: 

  • the age when hep C infected the body
  • history of alcohol intake
  • current level of liver inflammation
  • if you have another viral infection

Having hep C as well as another viral infection (such as HIV or hepatitis B) will put you at greater risk of serious long-term illness. If you have HIV or hep B as well as hep C, it is critical to keep in good contact with your doctor or specialist so that you can be checked regularly and an appropriate treatment plan is made for you. 

A cure for hepatitis C

Fortunately, the latest hep C treatments are not only simple and safe, they are also very effective with up to 95% cure rate.

You should speak to your doctor about your own situation and being cured of hepatitis C. 

Download this factsheet


MORE INFORMATION

For more information about hepatitis C you can contact the National Hepatitis Infoline on 1800 437 222.

Use the following links to find out more about hepatitis C

Symptoms of hepatitis C

Testing for hepatitis C

Hepatitis C cures

Hepatitis C prevention


Page updated: 7 June 2019