​Hepatitis C


The symptoms of Hepatitis C (HCV) can be similar to Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B; however Hepatitis C is much more chronic than A and B and may result in hampering your or your child’s liver. Hepatitis C is usually contracted through coming in contact with an affected person’s blood or body fluids. However, in children and babies, it usually is transmitted at the time of birth if the child’s mother has Hepatitis C infection. Hepatitis C is much less common is children as compared to adults.

Chronic Hepatitis C also leads to liver cancer. Rarely, people living with an infected person can contract HCV by sharing items that might contain that person's blood, such as razors, toothbrushes, or scissors.

Most babies are infected with Hepatitis C at birth which is called vertical transmission of infection (from mother to child). If a mother has HCV, her child has a 1 in 20 chance of becoming infected at birth. The higher the viral load in the mother, the higher the risk of infection.


Hepatitis C in infants is suspected if the child’s mother is Hepatitis C positive. There may be no visible symptoms, yet your doctor might want to run a few tests and your child will need a follow-up.

In adults, it is very common for sufferers of hepatitis C not to know that they have contracted the virus because they usually do not notice any symptoms of the disease, which is why it is often called a ‘silent infection’. It is usually only after the disease progresses and worsens that any symptoms are realized. However, it is possible in rare instances for you to experience some symptoms of acute HCV, including:

  • Decreased appetite 
  • Weight loss 
  • Fever 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or joint pain 
  • Jaundice: symptoms of which include yellow eyes and skin, and darker urine
  • Pain in your abdomen, particularly in the vicinity of your liver on your right side below your lower ribs 

If you or your child is exhibiting symptoms of Hepatitis C, inform your doctor at the Children’s Hospital​ or Internal Medicine​ Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital. Your doctor may not be able to prevent this virus from transmitting to your baby, but will come up with an effective course of treatment.

You can also consult doctors working with the Family Health Services to become informed about preventive measures against Hepatitis C.

Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

In children over two years of age, Hepatitis is diagnosed the same way as it is in adults. If a child or adolescent is suspected of having Hepatitis, the testing is to screen with a protein in the blood that is made by the body to fight germs such as viruses or bacteria. If the antibody test is positive, infection should be confirmed with a direct viral test like HCV PCR.

Diagnosis is done through blood tests. Liver function tests may determine how well the liver is working. Sometimes, a liver biopsy is needed, which indicated the form of treatment that may be appropriate.

Children with mild hepatitis can be cured at home. They need to rest a lot and drink a lot of fluids to flush the liver. Ideally they have to wait for the jaundice to clear out of the system. It may take up to fifteen days. Kids with a lack of appetite should try smaller, more frequent meals and fluids that are high in calories (like milkshakes). They should also eat healthy foods rich in protein and carbohydrates and drink plenty of water.

If, however, Hepatitis C is undiagnosed for a prolonged period, it may lead to liver damage. In that case, the surgical option of a liver transplant is usually proposed. These cases are usually referred to doctors working with the GI and Surgery Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
 
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.
 
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.