What you need to know

Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect and damage the liver. The virus is most commonly spread through contact with the blood of an infected person usually through the sharing of needles. Less commonly hepatitis C can be spread through unprotected sex or exposure to infected body fluids.

Signs and symptoms

Many people do not experience any symptoms when they first catch hepatitis C.

You might experience mild flu-like symptoms including loss of appetite, nausea, joint pains and tiredness a few weeks after becoming infected.

Some people with hepatitis C will not develop liver problems and will stay well throughout their lives. Others may develop chronic (long-term) hepatitis C and will have the symptoms of a damaged liver including nausea, ongoing tiredness, vomiting, unexplained weight loss and jaundice (yellow skin). If this is not treated it will eventually lead to life threatening liver failure.

Testing and treatment

A blood test is used to diagnose hepatitis C. If you would like to be tested, you can either visit the Beckenham Beacon sexual health clinic, or you are eligible to order an online test which includes hepatitis C testing if you are a man who has sex with men.

If you are found to have hepatitis C, you will be referred to a liver specialist. There are increasingly effective treatments available, and in many people the virus can be cleared, i.e. the infection cured. It is important to detect the virus before it does any damage to the liver.