Owen Clinic
(619) 543-3995

Hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS

Hepatitis C (HCV) can damage the liver and limit or completely destroy the liver's ability to:

  • Regulate cholesterol
  • Collect sugars, vitamins, minerals and iron
  • Create protein
  • Control hormones, keeping them at adequate levels
  • Filter waste products from your blood

HCV infection can have more complications if the person is HIV+. You're not alone: About 30 percent of HIV+ people are also positive for Hepatitis C. Intravenous drug users are at higher risk to contract Hepatitis C through infected blood contact, which can happen through sharing needles. 

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Answers to Common Questions

What is the liver?

The liver is an organ located in your right abdomen under the right lower ribcage. It's a factory that converts food to various kinds of energy. You can’t live without one.

What is Hepatitis C and how did I get it?

Hepatitis C is a liver disease. It causes inflammation of the liver caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The main ways you could become infected with Hepatitis C are:

  • Injecting drugs
  • Blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
  • Long-term hemodialysis
  • Children born to Hepatitis C positive mother
  • Sexual transmission (less common but important in HIV)

You can't get Hepatitis C through casual contact, such as:

  • Sitting next to an infected person
  • Shaking hands with an infected person
  • Hugging an infected person
  • Toilets
  • Swimming pools
  • Water fountains

What is important to know about having Hepatitis C and HIV?

  • There are Hepatitis C treatments available for you.
  • Doctors and researchers are working to find new and better treatments.
  • It's crucial to maintain a healthy liver for successful HIV treatment.
  • Getting early treatment for Hep C can stop the virus from causing more damage to your liver.
  • Ongoing damage from inflammation can cause serious scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis, or liver cancer.

What will happen to my body if I don’t get treated for Hepatitis C?

  • If not treated, the liver can be damaged over years. Many times there are no symptoms while Hepatitis C is in the treatable stage. Hepatitis C medication works better if it's taken before major damage occurs in the liver.
  • If not treated, scar tissue begins to replace normal liver cells.
  • Once scarring occurs, the liver may not be able to heal itself completely.

Visit here to learn more information.

Do I need medicine?

There are many treatments, and more research is being done. Ask your doctor if the time is right for you to be treated.

What should I know?

What I need to know about Hepatitis C

  • Our clinic offers a highly-specialized and experienced Hepatitis C & HIV treatment programs
  • Tell people you trust 
  • Stay healthy 
  • Prevention
  • Stop using drugs; a substance abuse program may help you
  • Never reuse or share needles
  • Do not share a razor, toothbrush or other item that may be contaminated with blood
  • Always practice safer sex and use latex condoms

What are some questions I might want to ask my doctor?

  1. What kind of treatment is the best for me?
  2. Is there any medical reason why I can’t try medication for Hepatitis C?
  3. What are the possible side-effects of taking Hepatitis C medication?
  4. Can I be treated for both HIV and Hep C at the same time?

Make sure you express all your worries and concerns.

Education and Support Groups

UC San Diego Health System offers these Hepatitis C education classes and support groups:

Hepatitis C Education Class

Date and time: First and third Thursday of every month from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Location: UC San Diego Medical Offices South, First floor conference room
Registration: 619-543-5415

Hepatitis C Support Group
Date and time: The third Thursday of every month from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Location: UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest on the 11th floor, Room 11 - 309
Liver Transplant Support Group
Liver Transplant Education Class
Date  and time: First and fourth Monday of the month from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Second and fourth Thursday of the month from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: UC San Diego Medical Center, Medical Offices South, First Floor Conference Room
Registration: 858-657-7728