Hepatitis C is a viral infection that affects the liver, that may possibly be transmitted by sexual contact, but more often through sharing needles or unsafe tattooing. This page outlines the symptoms and treatment for hepatitis C.
You can get hepatitis C through contact with infected blood, sharing needles, syringes and any other equipment and, possibly, through sexual contact. You can also get it with a blood transfusion in countries that do not pre-test blood for transfusion. (New Zealand does pre-test for transfusions.)
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Although there are often no symptoms, these can include tiredness, yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (rarely), dark urine, mild flu-like symptoms, abdominal pain and nausea.
How serious is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease that ranges in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness that attacks the liver causing damage or sometimes cancer.
How do I get tested for Hepatitis C?
Testing for hepatitis C involves two steps. The first step is an Anti-HCV test to check if there are any antibodies present in your blood, and can therefore confirm whether you have ever been in contact with the virus. A second test is required to check if the virus is currently present in your blood.
Your sexual and needle-sharing partners should also have a blood test to check for hepatitis C antibodies. Find a local clinic now.
What is the treatment for Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is treated with rest, exercise, and eating a well balanced, low-fat diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables. Alcohol and using intravenous drugs should be avoided. Some antiviral treatments are now available. Talk to your doctor about these.
The medical information in JUST THE FACTS is based on the STIEF and NZ Sexual Health Society Guidelines for the management of STIs. The New Zealand Ministry of Health supports the use of these clinical guidelines, developed by clinical experts and professional associations to guide clinical care in New Zealand.