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Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Hepatitis C?

The virus that causes hepatitis C wasn't even discovered until 1989, but it has quickly earned a place among the most dangerous germs on earth. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about 4 million Americans have been infected with the virus, which can cause a life-threatening illness. How much do you know about hepatitis C? Take this short quiz to find out.

1. A hepatitis C infection usually causes severe symptoms that are impossible to ignore.

True

False

2. Unlike other forms of hepatitis, hepatitis C is usually chronic (long-lasting).

True

False

3. Hepatitis C can take very different courses in different people.

True

False

4. Which of the following people is LEAST likely to develop hepatitis C?

a. Someone who has regular, unprotected sex with one partner

b. Anyone who has used dirty needles to inject drugs

c. Anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1992

d. Babies born to infected mothers

5. Many cases of hepatitis C occur for no apparent reason.

True

False

6. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, and there probably won't be for years to come.

True

False

Your Results

1. A hepatitis C infection usually causes severe symptoms that are impossible to ignore.

The correct answer is: False

Hepatitis C is usually a silent disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 80 percent of people with the condition have no symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, they are often mild and easily overlooked. Symptoms to watch out for include fatigue, stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, and jaundice (a yellowish tint to the skin).

2. Unlike other forms of hepatitis, hepatitis C is usually chronic (long-lasting).

The correct answer is: True

Once the hepatitis C virus makes a home in the liver, it rarely leaves. According to the CDC, 75 to 85 percent of all infections become chronic. About 60 to 70 percent of people with long-lasting infections will develop chronic liver disease.

3. Hepatitis C can take very different courses in different people.

The correct answer is: True

Some people with a chronic hepatitis C infection quickly develop serious complications (such as cirrhosis), some suffer complications decades down the road, and some escape liver damage entirely. According to the NIH, hepatitis C tends to be especially severe in heavy drinkers and people who have other viruses that can cause hepatitis. If you're diagnosed with hepatitis C, you can protect your liver by eliminating alcohol and getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.

4. Which of the following people is LEAST likely to develop hepatitis C?

The correct answer is: a. Someone who has regular, unprotected sex with one partner.

According to the NIH, people rarely catch the hepatitis C virus through sex, especially if they have just one partner. In contrast, the virus can spread quickly when drug users share dirty needles. Anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1992 -- before donated blood was screened for the virus -- is also at risk. Babies born to infected mothers should be checked for the virus between 12 to 18 months of age.

5. Many cases of hepatitis C occur for no apparent reason.

The correct answer is: True

As reported by the NIH, about 30 percent of chronic hepatitis C infections can't be easily explained. The virus evidently found an unusual path into the body, perhaps through a small cut or a surgical incision.

6. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C, and there probably won't be for years to come.

The correct answer is: True

With no vaccine in sight, common sense is the best protection. Not sharing dirty needles is by far the most important thing a person can do to avoid hepatitis C.

References

National Institutes of Health. National Digestive Diseases Information. Chronic Hepatitis C: Current Disease Management.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Viral hepatitis C. Fact sheet. April 1, 2003.

National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. What you should know about hepatitis C. January 2001.

World Health Organization. Hepatitis C. October 2000.

Centers for Disease Control. Viral Hepatitis C. December 2006.

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