What is hepatitis C?
The hepatitis C virus is one of several viruses that can cause inflammation of the liver.
Hepatitis C infection involves an initial acute phase of infection that may not be noticeable, because in most cases people do not feel sick. This phase can last up to six months. During this time, levels of the virus in the blood rise dramatically until the body’s immune system starts to produce antibodies.
The virus is slow acting and it can take many years from infection before any permanent damage to the liver (such as scarring) occurs. There is no way to predict how the virus will affect each individual or over what period of time liver damage may develop.
The impact of hepatitis C and how severe it is will vary over time and will be different for each person. Generally, the statistics show that the damage caused by the virus will increase as time goes on and will have a matching impact on the liver. However, this will not apply to everyone.