What is Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus.Hepatitis C is a virus which is carried in the bloodstream to the liver. It can then affect and damage your liver. It can cause inflammation (swelling) and fibrosis (scarring) of the liver tissue, and sometimes significant liver damage. It may subsequently lead to cancer of the liver and possible death.

In Northern Ireland there are more than 2500 people known to be infected, however a large proportion of people remain unaware that they have the virus.

Many people do not realize they have been infected with the virus because they may not have any symptoms, or they may have flu-like symptoms that can easily be mistaken for another illness.

There are six types of hepatitis C virus, which all have different genes. These different types are called genotypes and they are numbered 1 to 6.

Almost all people in the UK who have hepatitis C have genotype 1, genotype 2, or genotype 3.

It is important to know which type you have as different types respond differently to treatment. It is possible to be infected with more than one type of hepatitis C at the same time. 


There is currently no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. This is because the hepatitis C virus mutates (changes into a different strain) very easily, which makes it hard to create a vaccine, and the virus has different genotypes (genetic variants).

Further Information


  • It is a blood borne virus.
  • It affects the liver.
  • It can be spread through sharing injecting equipment.
  • Never share toothbrushes, razors or other personal items.
  • It can survive in blood outside the body.
  • 1 in 4 infected will clear the virus themselves.
  • There is no vaccine available
  • There is treatment available which can help.
  • You can catch it more than once.
  • Current Treatment For hepatitis C


Please read on and if you think that you could be infected, then please see your doctor or go to your local Sexual health/Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) clinic and request a test to screen for hepatitis C.

For further information regarding where to get tested, please refer to the help and support section of this website

Other useful Websites