Hepatitis is defined as inflammation of the liver. It is characterized by the destruction of a number of liver cells and the presence of inflammatory cells in the liver tissue.

Hepatitis can be divided into two subgroups according to its duration:

  • acute hepatitis - lasting less than six months
  • chronic hepatitis - lasting longer than six months

Hepatitis C is a blood-born infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), one of the most important causes of chronic liver disease in the United States. Unrelated to any of the other known hepatitis viruses (A, B, D and E), Hepatitis C causes damage to the liver that may lead to permanent liver damage as well as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

Chronic hepatitis C varies greatly in its course and outcome, and is spread primarily by contact with blood and blood products.

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