Hepatitis C Testing

Hepatitis C, a liver infection caused by a single-stranded RNA virus, is spread through contact with blood and body fluids containing blood. The most common way of acquiring a hepatitis C infection is injection-drug use. Unprotected sex and unregulated tattooing are also sources of infection. Acute or new diagnoses of hepatitis C have quadrupled in the U.S. in recent years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends universal, one-time hepatitis C testing for anyone 18 years of age and older.

  1. Symptoms
  2. Testing
  3. Screening & Confirmation

Acute & Chronic Hepatitis C Symptoms

Half of individuals experiencing an acute hepatitis C infection are asymptomatic or experience easy-to-ignore symptoms. Symptoms appear 2 to 26 weeks after initial exposure to blood and/or body fluids and may include but are not limited to the following:

  • fever                                                     
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • dark urine
  • clay-colored stool
  • vomiting
  • jaundice
  • depression

Seek Treatment

Half of all acute hepatitis C infections clear up on their own; however, a subclinical or asymptomatic hepatitis C infection still damages the body. Asymptomatic individuals or those with mild symptoms need to seek medical treatment. Medication is now available to cure hepatitis C; however, prior infection does not protect against reinfection.

People with asymptomatic, chronic hepatitis C may feel fine for up to 20 years after initial exposure. Up to 25% of chronic hepatitis C infections progress to cancer, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hepatitis C testing and treatment can prevent expensive, long-term medical problems.