Skip to Content

Hepatitis C: Your Risk for Cirrhosis

Topic Overview

Up to 85% of people who are infected with the hepatitis C virus will develop long-term (chronic) infection.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.2

Certain factors may affect how quickly problems such as cirrhosis or liver cancer develop.

The way cirrhosis develops depends on: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 with 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.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Dienstag JL (2010). Chronic viral hepatitis. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1593–1670. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
  2. Flamm SL (2003). Chronic hepatitis C virus infection. JAMA, 289(18): 2413–2417.
  3. Poynard T, et al. (2003). Viral hepatitis C. Lancet, 362(9401): 2095–2100.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
Current as of June 4, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Also in this Section

Health Library