Hepatitis C guide

Hepatitis C complications


What if hepatitis C is untreated?

Medical treatment of hepatitis C is effective for many people...and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 25% of people clear the virus without treatment. But, for most people, an undiagnosed and untreated hepatitis C infection can develop into liver disease... and in rare cases, a chronic (long-term) hepatitis C infection can also eventually result in liver cancer or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver).

Hepatitis C and HIV

People who have hepatitis C and are HIV-positive are more likely to suffer from chronic hepatitis C complications. To minimize your risk of becoming infected or spreading hepatitis C infection to others, get tested if you think you might have been exposed, and continue to use latex condoms...and avoid any other activity that could expose you to the blood of an infected person.

In general, someone who has one STD is at greater risk for infection with other STDs, including HIV. That's because STDs that cause ulcers, sores, or otherwise break the skin or mucous membranes make carriers more susceptible to infection. Also, someone with one or more STDs may have a weakened immune system that makes them more vulnerable to other diseases.

Hepatitis C and pregnancy

There's a low risk that pregnant women with hepatitis C may transmit the virus to their babies...if you're pregnant and concerned about hepatitis C, be sure to consult your regular doctor.

Last reviewed by Lisa Oldson, MD, November 2011.

Lisa Oldson, MD

STD expert

"The first thing I tell a patient about STDs is that if you're worried about one STD, you should probably worry about all STDs. In other words, if you had unprotected sex and you're worried about a possible HIV exposure, it's important to understand that hepatitis can be spread in the same fashion...ditto for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes and syphilis."