Hepatitis C: From Acute Illness to Chronic Challenge for your Liver

What is Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is another type of viral hepatitis that for most people is a short-illness (acute infection) but for a few, it can become a long-term disease. 


How do I know?

Hepatitis C often causes no or minor symptoms. Many people therefore don’t even notice that they are infected and pass the infection on to others without knowing it. In the acute phase, symptoms can be similar to other hepatitis – yellow skin or eyes, not feeling like eating, upset stomach, vomiting, abdomen pain, fever, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pains, and feeling tired. While in the chronic stage, again most people may have no symptoms, but if symptomatic, this can present as chronic fatigue and depression. Many people progress to have chronic liver disease and a small proportion have the risk of developing liver cancer. One can get a blood test to know whether they have this infection.


How do we get infected? And how do I protect myself?

Hepatitis C is passed on by exposure to infected blood, especially when sharing drug equipment: syringes or needles or sniffing tubes. Transmission of hepatitis C during sex is rare but there are chances. You can contract Hepatitis C repeatedly: there is no immunity.

Avoid any exposure of blood during sex.

Especially when fisting, new gloves should be used for each sex partner and a separate lubricant for each person. Sex toys also need to be disinfected. This is because the hepatitis C virus is very resilient. It may survive and be transmitted through a jar of lube, for example.

When using drugs, you should use clean and sterile material and only use it once. Those who inject drugs can protect themselves by not sharing injection equipment. When snorting (sniffing) and smoking drugs, everyone should only use their own pipes and rolls of paper.

Tattoos and piercings should only be done by professionals who work under strict hygienic conditions.


How is it treated?

Hepatitis C is easily treated with medication (direct-acting antiviral agents (DAV)). Hepatitis C can almost always be cured. This treatment is covered by some health insurance providers (add links)

If left untreated, a Hepatitis C infection can become chronic and damage the liver. After a few years, severe consequences such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma can develop.


Check out more content on STIs like Syphilis, Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Hepatitis A/B, Herpes, HPV, Genital Warts, Crabs, Scabies, Fungi.

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About the Author: Raju Behara (she/they), a trans-disabled Peer Support Provider with a decade of healthcare experience, holds a Masters in Pharmacology and a PG Diploma in Health Economics, Health Policy at the Indian Institute of Public Health. Aligned with the Safe Access Community Wellbeing Project, Raju has contributed to LGBTQIA+ safety in Indian workplaces, drafting gender-neutral dress codes and working on sensitization. A published author and poet in various anthologies, Raju, through EQUAL fellowship, chronicled social histories of housing, healthcare and workplace discrimination for queer-trans individuals in India. They initiated ‘Queer & Quarantine’, a crisis intervention program for trans folks facing housing challenges.

Article Vetted by: Dr. Swathi SB


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