If a simple blood test could improve your long-term health or possibly save your life, would you have it done? The answer for most people is a resounding “Yes.” Testing for hepatitis C, which entails a basic blood draw and analysis, can be the difference between serious health complications later in life or a manageable — in some cases curable — condition.
Victoria Louwagie, physician assistant at Mayo Clinic Health System, explores questions and answers to help you understand more about chronic hepatitis C.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that targets the liver, leading to inflammation. Several hepatitis viruses exist, but hepatitis C is one of the most serious forms. Hepatitis A, B and C are different diseases.
Passed through contact with contaminated blood, hepatitis C is often contracted by sharing needles or snorting drugs. However, receiving a blood transfusion, clotting factor or organ transplant before 1992, getting piercings or tattoos in an unsterile environment, and having a history of incarceration, among other things, are also risks for hepatitis C.