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Hepatitis C (cont.)

Hepatitis C Prognosis

Hepatitis C varies greatly in its long-term effects.

  • Most people never develop severe complications of the disease.
  • Some of chronically infected people go on to develop cirrhosis.
  • Cirrhosis from chronic hepatitis C can lead to liver failure. If damage is severe, liver transplantation is the only treatment.
  • Inflammation of the liver and cirrhosis from chronic hepatitis C may lead to liver cancer.

A small number of people with hepatitis C develop complications outside the liver. These may affect the skin and connective tissues of the body, the blood or bone marrow, the muscles, the joints, or the kidneys.

Hepatitis C Prevention

Right now, there is no vaccine for the prevention of HCV transmission. The best means of preventing transmission of HCV is to prevent contact with infected blood, not to inject illicit drugs, and to avoid high-risk sexual behavior such as multiple partners and anal contact.

Avoiding alcohol and drugs that can damage the liver may help slow the rate of progression of the disease. Although no vaccine is available for hepatitis C, persons who are infected with one hepatitis virus usually do poorly if they acquire another hepatitis virus. Thus, persons with hepatitis C should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and Hepatitis C virus.

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease


Jensen DM. A new era of hepatitis C therapy begins. N Engl J Med. 2011 Mar 31;364(13):1272-4.

Rosen HR. Clinical practice. Chronic hepatitis C infection. N Engl J Med. 2011 Jun 23;364(25):2429-38

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/5/2014
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