We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
JAMA Patient Page |

Hepatitis C FREE

Janet M. Torpy, MD, Writer; Cassio Lynm, MA, Illustrator; Richard M. Glass, MD, Editor
JAMA. 2003;289(18):2450. doi:10.1001/jama.289.18.2350.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a virus that can damage the liver. About 2% of Americans are infected with HCV. Hepatitis C, the liver disease caused by HCV, is a common worldwide problem and leads to 12,000 deaths each year in the United States. You can be infected with the virus and not know you have it. Hepatitis C virus spreads by contact with blood from an infected individual. A simple blood test can show if you are infected with HCV. Since 1992, all blood donations have been tested for HCV. About three quarters of persons infected with HCV develop chronic (long-term) hepatitis. Fortunately, only about one quarter develop progressive, irreversible liver damage. In those cases, liver tissue is gradually destroyed over time and replaced with scar tissue (cirrhosis). In the presence of cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer can occur. The May 14, 2003, issue of JAMA includes an article about hepatitis C.


  • Blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992

  • Exposure to infected blood

  • Illegal drug use (contaminated needles or other drug equipment)

  • Tattoos

  • Body piercing


  • Hepatitis A (usually from food or feces contaminated by infected individuals)

  • Hepatitis B (from infected blood, sexual contact, or mother-to-baby transmission)

  • Hepatitis D, E, and G (usually from infected blood or blood products)


  • Alcohol use should be completely stopped because it greatly increases the risk for cirrhosis

  • Interferon (stops the virus from making more copies of itself)

  • Ribavirin (an antiviral medication)

  • Liver transplantation (if the patient 's liver is no longer functioning adequately)

Elimination of HCV from the body is possible, but the side effects of treatment can be serious. Your doctor may suggest that mild cases of hepatitis C infection should be watched carefully and treatment started if the disease begins to progress. Medical research studies are ongoing to help answer questions about hepatitis C treatment. Transplantation of a new liver to replace the liver damaged by hepatitis C is an option for treatment of advanced cirrhosis or early liver cancer. Transplantation is limited by the number of organs available for donation. Liver transplantation is major surgery, and lifelong medications are required after the transplant to prevent the body from rejecting the transplanted liver.



To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page link on JAMA 's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Many are available in English and Spanish. A Patient Page on preventing hepatitis B was published in the November 10,1999,issue;and one on diseases transmitted by blood and body fluids was published in the July 12, 2000,issue.

The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA suggests that you consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. Any other print or online reproduction is subject to AMA approval. To purchase bulk reprints, call 718/946-7424.

Sources: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases




Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

0 Citations

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Collections
PubMed Articles