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Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
HCV (hepatitis C virus) makes your liver swell and stops it from working right. About one-quarter of people living with HIV are also infected with hepatitis C. You can get HCV by:
- Sharing drug needles
- Getting pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it (hospital workers can get HCV this way)
- Being born to a mother with hepatitis C
- Getting a tattoo or body piercing with unclean tools
- Having sex with an infected person, especially if you or your partner has other sexually transmitted infections
Many people with hepatitis C don't have any symptoms. But some people feel like they have the flu. They may have these symptoms, which can appear six to 12 weeks after exposure to the virus:
- Feel tired
- Upset stomach or pain
- Don't want to eat
They may also have these symptoms:
- Dark yellow urine
- Light-colored feces
- Yellowish eyes and skin
HCV infection is more serious in persons with HIV. It leads to liver damage more quickly. Having HCV may affect the treatment of HIV infection. So, it's important for HIV-infected persons to know whether they are also infected with HCV. These steps can help prevent infection:
- Don't share drug needles with anyone.
- Wear gloves if you have to touch anyone's blood.
- Don't use an infected person's toothbrush, razor, or anything else that could have blood on it.
- If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure it's done with clean tools.
- Use a condom during sex.
Chronic hepatitis C can be treated successfully, even in people with HIV. But HCV can go on for years without symptoms. Over time, HCV can cause your liver to stop working. If that happens, you will need a new liver. The surgery is called a liver transplant. It involves taking out the old, damaged liver and putting in a new, healthy one from a donor. Liver transplant is possible for some people with HIV.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Viral Hepatitis Fact Sheet — This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about viral hepatitis and how the virus spreads. It also has information on the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of hepatitis.
Explore other publications and websites
Coinfection with HIV and Hepatitis C Virus — This fact sheet provides information on infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) for people living with HIV/AIDS. It discusses the risk factors for infection, methods of transmission such as through using injection drugs, and treatment options for people with HCV.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers About Coinfection with HIV and Hepatitis C Virus — This Web page talks about the link between hepatitis C and HIV infection. Topics include who is likely to have coinfection, the effects of coinfection, and how patients should manage both HIV and hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C (Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians) — This publication discusses hepatitis C and its effect on the body. It also offers information on transmission and the best treatments for hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C: Just Diagnosed — This publication helps you understand a hepatitis C diagnosis, find support, work with your doctor, and receive proper treatment options.
Content last updated July 1, 2011.
Resources last updated July 1, 2011.
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