Up to 85% of people who are infected with the hepatitis C virus will develop long-term (chronic) infection.footnote 1 About 25% of people who have chronic hepatitis C will go on to develop cirrhosis—severe liver damage and scarring—after a period of about 20 years or more.footnote 2
Certain factors may affect how quickly problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer develop.
The way cirrhosis develops depends on:footnote 3
- How much liver damage you had when you were diagnosed and how long you have had the infection. The amount of liver damage you have compared with how long you have had hepatitis C can help determine how likely it is that you will develop cirrhosis.
- Your age when you were infected. People who are older than 40 when they become infected may develop cirrhosis more quickly.
- How much alcohol you drink. People who drink too much alcohol (heavy drinking) can develop cirrhosis much more quickly than people who do not drink or who drink very little alcohol.
- Your gender. Men may develop cirrhosis more quickly than women.
- Whether you are obese and/or have diabetes. These conditions can contribute to the development of cirrhosis.
- Whether you have HIV or another immune system disorder. These conditions can speed up the development of cirrhosis.
- Dienstag JL, Delemos AS (2015). Viral hepatitis. In JE Bennett et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 8th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1438–1468. Philadelphia: Saunders.
- Flamm SL (2003). Chronic hepatitis C virus infection. JAMA, 289(18): 2413–2417.
- Poynard T, et al. (2003). Viral hepatitis C. Lancet, 362(9401): 2095–2100.
Current as ofJuly 30, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
W. Thomas London, MD - Internal Medicine, Hepatology
Current as of: July 30, 2018