The Division of Public Health and its partners are working to raise awareness of viral hepatitis by encouraging priority populations to get tested, specifically for hepatitis C virus infection.

One of these priority populations, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are people born from 1945 to 1965. The CDC indicates they are five times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults.

Hepatitis is the name of a family of three viral infections that affect the liver: hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Hepatitis A and B can be prevented by vaccines. While hepatitis C has no vaccine, it can now be cured with medications.

Symptoms of acute hepatitis C may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, joint pain and vomiting. However, most people with acute hepatitis C infection do not have any symptoms and are unaware of their infection. About 75 percent of people who are infected develop a long-term infection called chronic hepatitis C, which can lead to conditions like liver cancer and cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver and liver failure. Hepatitis C infection is one of the top reasons people get liver transplants.

Hepatitis C is usually transmitted when blood from an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected. The disease is infectious and is easily transmitted, even in microscopic amounts of blood. Transmission occurs mainly through the sharing of needles, syringes or other drug-injection equipment. It may also be transmitted through sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby at birth.

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