Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes both acute and chronic infection. Acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic, and is only very rarely associated with life-threatening disease. The incubation period for hepatitis C is 2 weeks to 6 months. Following initial infection, approximately 80% of people do not exhibit any symptoms. Those who are acutely symptomatic may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-coloured faeces, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes).
Hepatitis C caused due to contact with contaminated blood or needles used to inject illegal drugs or draw tattoos. Sometimes you don't get any symptoms, or just mild ones. But in some cases hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, a risky scarring of your liver.HCV infection is diagnosed in 2 steps: Screening for anti-HCV antibodies with a serological test identifies people who have been infected with the virus. If the test is positive for anti-HCV antibodies, a nucleic acid test for HCV RNA is needed to confirm chronic HCV infection.
Hepatitis C does not always require treatment as the immune response in some people will clear the infection, and some people with chronic infection do not develop liver damage. When treatment is necessary, the goal of hepatitis C treatment is cure. Each of the hepatitis viruses causes similar liver damage. The inflammatory process is activated throughout the whole liver, and hepatocytes are destroyed by cytotoxic cytokines and natural killer cells, both parts of the inflammatory process. Cellular necrosis takes place. If inflammation affects the periportal areas,cholestasis, or the interruption of the flow of bile takes place.
Of the 6012 notifications of hepatitis C for people living in WA, SA, and the NT in 2004-2006, 658 (11%) were identified as being Indigenous (in 23% of notifications, Indigenous status was not stated). The crude notification rate of 138 per 100,000 for Indigenous people was 3.6 times the rate of 38 per 100,000 for Indigenous people.