Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus.
There are different hepatitis viruses that affect the liver. The three types that are common in Canada are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
People can get hepatitis C when blood carrying the virus gets into their bloodstream. Once inside, it infects the liver and causes damage to this very important organ. The more damage there is, the harder it is for the liver to do its job and people can become very sick.
For some people who get hepatitis C, the virus goes away on its own within the first six months after infection. For most people, the virus is still in the body after six months. At this point, hepatitis C will not go away on its own, but there is treatment that can clear (get rid of) the virus from the body.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
The body can protect itself from many viruses. We call this immunity. It can sometimes do this on its own but it often needs the help of a vaccine.
There is no vaccine or other immunity against hepatitis C, so the only way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding the virus. Even people who get hepatitis C and clear the virus can get it again.
This information was provided by CATIE (Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange).
For more information, contact CATIE at 1.800.263.1638 or email@example.com