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HCV (hepatitis C virus) makes your liver swell and stops it from working right. You can get HCV by:

  • sharing drug needles
  • getting pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it (hospital workers can get HCV this way)
  • being born to a mother with hepatitis C
  • getting a tattoo or body piercing with unsterilized, dirty tools
  • having sex with an infected person, especially if you or your partner has other sexually transmitted diseases. This is rare.

Many people with hepatitis C don't have any symptoms. But some people feel like they have the flu. They have these symptoms:

  • feel tired
  • feel sick to their stomach
  • fever
  • don't want to eat
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea

They may also have these symptoms:

  • dark yellow urine
  • light-colored BM (poop)
  • yellowish eyes and skin

HCV infection is more serious in persons with HIV. It leads to liver damage more quickly. Having HCV may affect the treatment of HIV infection. So, it's important for HIV-infected persons to know whether they are also infected with HCV and, if they aren't, to take steps to not get it:

  • Don't share drug needles with anyone.
  • Wear gloves if you have to touch anyone's blood.
  • Don't use an infected person's toothbrush, razor, or anything else that could have blood on it.
  • If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure it's done with clean tools.
  • Use a condom during sex.

Chronic hepatitis C can be treated successfully, even in HIV positive people. It is treated with a drug called interferon alone or in combination with the drug ribavirin. HCV can cause your liver to stop working. If that happens, you will need a new liver. The surgery is called a liver transplant. It involves taking out the old, damaged liver and putting in a new, healthy one from a donor.

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