Hepatitis is the medical term for inflammation of the liver. The hepatitis C virus is one of the many causes of inflammation of the liver. Liver inflammation can also be caused by other types of hepatitis viruses, as well as by alcohol, medications, and some other less common problems.
Hepatitis C is a common cause of liver inflammation, liver disease, and liver cancer in North America. Almost 250,000 Canadians have hepatitis C, but many are not aware that they carry the virus. This is because many people who are infected with the hepatitis C virus do not have symptoms.
Hepatitis C is transmitted from one person to another through blood or blood products that are infected with the virus. Modern screening tests have almost eliminated the transmission of hepatitis C through blood products (e.g., transfusions). Today the main way hepatitis C is spread in Canada is through contaminated drug needles.