Hide this
laboratory test

Story at-a-glance -

  • Acute hepatitis C patients may experience symptoms, but they are usually mild, such as fatigue and vomiting, and do not appear immediately
  • While there is no definite correlation between the types of genotype and the risk of liver damage or cirrhosis, there is some data that suggest that people with genotype 1 HCV (particularly subtype 1b) have a greater risk of cirrhosis compared to other genotypes
 

What Are the Different Types of Hepatitis C?

| 3,713 views

There are two ways by which hepatitis C can be classified. The first one is the duration of the disease: how long it stays in the body, and whether it clears up or worsens over time. The second is by its genotype. Keep on reading to learn more about these hepatitis C classifications.

Hepatitis C Can Be Acute or Chronic

Although hepatitis C is typically divided into acute hepatitis C and chronic hepatitis C, the truth is that they are actually the same disease. The primary difference between them is how long they stay and wreak havoc in the body.1 Thus, they can also be defined as “stages” of hepatitis C.

When you first become infected with HCV, you develop acute hepatitis C. This infection may be a short-term viral infection only, and those who acquire it may stay infectious only for a particular period, usually six months or less.2

Acute hepatitis C patients may experience symptoms, but they are usually mild, such as fatigue and vomiting, and do not appear immediately. In some people, the symptoms show within 14 days of infection, while others take six months before any signs manifest.

The CDC says that the average period is six to seven weeks. In 75 percent of acute hepatitis C infections, however, no symptoms are felt.3 Acute hepatitis C may improve or resolve without treatment.

Unfortunately, 75 to 85 percent of these infections may progress into chronic hepatitis C,4 which is the more damaging stage of the illness.

What makes chronic hepatitis C so dangerous is that it does not cause any symptoms especially in the early stages, which means people do not know they have it until their condition has worsened.

Only when cirrhosis or liver damage or failure occurs will patients feel the symptoms, which typically include weight loss, weakness, blood clotting and fluid in the abdomen. Jaundice may be seen as well, although this usually happens in people with advanced cirrhosis.5

Sadly, even without these hallmark signs, people with chronic hepatitis C are still at risk for serious liver ailments, which can be potentially life-threatening.6 As much as 70 percent of chronic hepatitis C patients will experience severe liver damage, while 20 percent will have cirrhosis.7

Hepatitis C also increases a person’s risk for liver cancer and other cancers like renal and prostate cancer, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma.8

Hepatitis C Can Also Be Classified According to Genotype

There are six distinct genotypes of hepatitis C throughout the world. The term “genotype” is used to define a classification of a virus according to the genetic material in its ribonucleic acid (RNA) strands.9 Genotypes are based upon differences in certain regions of the viral genome. In addition, genotypes have additional branching subcategories, which include subtype and quasispecies.10 Here are the different genotypes of hepatitis C:11

Genotype 1a

Genotype 1b

Genotype 2a, 2b, 2c and 2d

Genotype 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e and 3f

Genotype 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h, 4i and 4j

Genotype 5a

Genotype 6a

These different genotypes and subtypes vary in distribution throughout the world. For example, genotype 1 is the most common genotype in the U.S., and is found in almost 75 percent of all HCV cases in the country. It is also the most common type in England and Wales, affecting half of all patients — unfortunately, it’s also the most difficult one to treat.12 Meanwhile, the rest of the HCV-infected people in the U.S. carry genotypes 2 or 3.

Genotypes 1, 2 and 3 are not confined to the U.S., however, as they are found worldwide. In the Middle East, Central Africa and Egypt, genotype 4 is prevalent, while genotype 5 is almost exclusively found in South Africa. In Southeast Asia, genotype 6 is the most common variation.

While there is no definite correlation between the types of genotype and the risk of liver damage or cirrhosis, there are some data that suggest that people with genotype 1 HCV (particularly subtype 1b) have a greater risk of cirrhosis compared to other genotypes.13 This is why knowing which genotype your illness falls under may be essential in determining the necessary treatment for your condition.14

< Previous

Hepatitis C Causes

Next >

Hepatitis C Symptoms

Click Here and be the first to comment on this article

Thank you! Your purchases help us support these charities and organizations.