An Overview of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a common bloodborne illness that affects the liver. Hepatitis C is transmitted through direct contact with blood such as through intravenous drug use and sexual intercourse.
Approximately 4 million people in the United States are infected with hepatitis C virus, and most do not know it. About 15% of people infected with acute Hepatitis C, whereas the rest develop chronic hepatitis C infection.
About 80% of those infected with hepatitis C do not have noticeable signs or symptoms. An acute hepatitis C infection is generally asymptomatic, but some people will experience jaundice or mild, flu-like symptoms. If a person develops cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), symptoms of hepatitis C may become more pronounced. Symptoms may include flu-like symptoms as well as weight loss, jaundice, fluid retention, and abdominal swelling. However, many people do not realize they have HCV until they exhibit sign of liver failure many years later.
The test for hepatitis C uses a blood sample to detect the presence of viral antibodies in the blood. If hepatitis C is detected, the RIBA test is performed to confirm the results and rule out false positives. Additional tests may be conducted to determine if you have chronic hepatitis C. The virus takes about three week to two months to show up in the body and produce accurate test results.