Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic.” Acute hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the hepatitis C virus. For most people, acute infection leads to chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, or even death. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injection drug use.