Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a common but insidious and indolent viral infection that can lead to chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. This article provides the advanced practice nurse with current information on prevalence, incidence, spread, and clinical course of hepatitis C. It presents a discussion of the methods of diagnosis, treatment, and management of affected patients. To date, the diagnosis of hepatitis C in the United States has been serendipitous because no surveillance and screening programs have been established. It has been estimated that approximately 4 million persons in the United States are infected with HCV, with only 30% presently diagnosed. Patients with hepatitis C must make informed choices regarding their care and treatment. As more people are diagnosed with hepatitis C, the advanced practice nurse is at the forefront of providing information about spread and diagnosis, treatment options available, and potential side effects of antiviral therapy. The decision to treat chronic HCV must be made in collaboration with other medical experts in hepatology and antiviral therapy, and it must be made with knowledge and understanding of all facets of the disease process and adverse effects of therapy.

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