First discovered in 1989, Hepatitis C is a serious viral infection that is often asymptomatic (shows no symptoms), but can be extremely serious. When symptoms are present, they often begin mild and resemble the flu virus. Hepatitis C can be acute or chronic, and ultimately it can lead to liver cancer, complete liver failure, and even death. Just like hepatitis B, the first 6 months of the infection are referred to as the acute phase, and the period past the initial 6 month period is the chronic phase of the disease. Chronic hepatitis C is extremely serious and can lead to serious liver disease, liver failure, and even death.
Acute Hepatitis C is a short-lived illness that people get within six months of being exposed to the Hepatitis C Virus. An acute infection can turn into a chronic infection, but that does not always happen. A chronic Hepatitis C infection lasts much longer than an acute infection, and it occurs when the Hepatitis C Virus remains in somebody's body. It is estimated that 70-85% of people who contract the Hepatitis C virus will eventually suffer from chronic Hepatitis C.