Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body. It removes harmful substances from your blood, stores vitamins, and makes proteins that help your blood to clot, among many other functions.
Acute hepatitis C refers to the first few months after someone is infected with the hepatitis C virus. Many people don't know they have hepatitis C as most don't feel sick when they're first infected. About 1 in 5 people who become infected clear the hepatitis C virus from their body without needing treatment. The rest go on to have chronic hepatitis C infection.
Chronic hepatitis C occurs if acute hepatitis infection is not cleared by your immune system. Over time, chronic hepatitis C can result in liver diseases, eg, fibrosis and cirrhosis (a kind of scarring of the liver), liver cancer and liver failure. This is made worse by alcohol or cannabis use, obesity, age and reduced immunity. Chronic hepatitis C can be treated and most people can be cured.
Video: What is hepatitis C and why should you care?
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(John Hopkins Medicine, US, 2018)