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Heat Emergency in Boston
Mayor Wu announced a heat emergency in the City of Boston through Wednesday, July 17. Cooling centers will be open at 14 BCYF community centers Monday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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Hepatitis C

This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C (HCV) is an infection caused by a virus that can cause the liver to swell. Most people infected with HCV cannot clear the infection on their own. They have often had the infection for many years without knowing it. Over time, chronic HCV can lead to serious liver damage.

The basics

How does hepatitis C spread?

HCV spreads when blood or other body fluids containing blood from an infected person enter the body of another person. This can happen through sharing needles or items like toothbrushes and razors or when infected blood enters through a cut in the skin. While uncommon, HCV can spread through sexual contact. It may also spread from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

How serious is hepatitis C?

HCV can be very serious for some people. Persons with HCV can have liver damage but not feel sick from the disease. Some persons with liver damage due to HCV may develop cirrhosis and liver failure, which often takes many years to develop. Others have no long-term effects. 

Who should get tested for hepatitis C?

Learn who should get tested for hepatits C here


What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?

Some people will have no symptoms or not have symptoms for many years. However, in some people, symptoms may appear as soon as 6 weeks or a few months after exposure to the virus. Symptoms can include:

  • Whites of the eye and skin turn yellow
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Tiredness
  • Dark brown urine
  • Stomach pain
  • Grey-colored stools (feces)


How can I prevent hepatitis C?

  • If you have HCV, do not donate your blood, body organs, or other tissue or sperm
  • If you have HCV, do not share toothbrushes, razors, or other personal care articles that might have your blood on them
  • Cover any cuts or open sores you may have
  • Reduce your risk of spreading HCV through sexual contact by using a condom
  • Do not inject medications not prescribed by a healthcare provider. If you use street drugs, seek treatment to try and stop. If you can't, reduce your risk by not sharing needles or equipment. If you snort drugs, don't share straws since these can get blood on them and transmit infection
  • Health care staff and custodial staff in hospitals or places that use needles or sharps should follow standard precautions for every patient


Can you treat hepatitis C?

Treatments are available for people with HCV. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out which treatment is best for you. If you do not have a health care provider, call the Mayor's Health Line at 617-534-5050 to assist in finding a healthcare provider near you.

How can a person with hepatitis C take care of their liver?

  • See your health care provider regularly
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Check with your health care provider before taking any new medication, including over the counter and herbal medicines
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B
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