It is estimated that 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a liver disease that originates as a virus similar to hepatitis A and B, but it affects the liver differently.
People can experience hepatitis C acutely or chronically. Acute hepatitis C means that within six months of exposure to the hepatitis C virus, a person can experience what seems like a short-term illness from infection. For a majority of people however, the infection becomes chronic.
Chronic hepatitis C occurs when the virus stays inside a person’s body and causes long-term illness, and seriously affects a person’s quality of life. The virus can last throughout a person’s lifetime and later cause liver scarring (cirrhosis) or liver cancer.