Hepatitis C is a virus that can infect and damage the liver. It is usually transmitted through blood-to-blood contact.
It isn't commonly transmitted through vaginal sex, but it can be transmitted through certain types of sex, which are more at risk of bleeding.
Click here for more information on hepatitis C.
During the early stage of infection there may not be any symptoms.
If symptoms do develop at this stage it is usually within the first six months after infection and they can be easily mistaken for another condition.
Symptoms can include:
Hepatitis C is usually transmitted through blood to blood contact. Examples include:
It isn't commonly transmitted through vaginal sex, but it can be transmitted through certain types of sex which are more at risk of bleeding.
Gay or bisexual men can be more at risk of acquiring hepatitis C if:
You can only be certain you have hepatitis if you have a blood test. You can be tested at a sexual health clinic (axess), GP surgery, or drug treatment service.
If you think you might have hepatitis C, get in touch with your nearest sexual health clinic.
You can find information on the locations and contact details of all axess clinics here.
Hepatitis C can be treated with antiviral medicines designed to stop the virus from multiplying inside the body and to prevent liver damage. The sooner treatment begins after exposure to the hepatitis C virus, the more likely it is to succeed.
If the virus is cleared with treatment, you are not immune to future infections of hepatitis C.
You can prevent the transmission of hepatitis C in the following ways:
Some people can clear the virus at the early stage of infection. However, some people will not be able to fight off the infection. This leads to a long term infection called chronic hepatitis.
Hepatitis C can lead to problems with your liver, including scarring of the liver (cirrhosis), often years after catching the infection.