Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency
Public Health Department
-- Facts About Hepatitis --


Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) 
Facts: Impacting Our Community in Santa Cruz

  • An estimated 4500 persons in Santa Cruz County are infected with the life-threatening Hepatitis C virus (HCV)

  • HCV is the most common blood-borne disease in the United States

  • Progression from infection to significant liver damage can take 20 or more years; therefore, the majority of HCV infected persons are not yet aware that they are infected and may unknowingly transmit the virus to others.

  • Over 200 individuals in Santa Cruz County may need liver transplants due to liver failure from advanced progression of HCV

  • Over 2200 persons in Santa Cruz County have learned since 1995 that they are infected with HCV.

For question about Hepatitis C testing availability please contact 454-4487.
For a copy of our local HCV Resource Guide please call 454-2437.

Hepatitis A (HAV) Hepatitis B (HBV) Hepatitis C (HCV)

What is it?
A liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus.

Clinical Features: Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes); fatigue; abdominal pain, loss of appetite, intermittent nausea, diarrhea

Transmission: Fecal-oral; food/waterborne outbreaks; blood borne (rare)

Risk Groups

  • Household/sexual contact with infected persons

  • International travelers

  • Persons living in American Indian reservations, Alaska Native villages,and other regions with endemic Hepatitis A.


  • Hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective in preventing Hepatitis A.

  • Immune globulin given pre- and post-exposure can prevent infection

  • Good hygiene and sanitation


What is it?
A serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. It can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.

The Hepatitis B vaccination is available for all age groups to prevent Hepatitis B virus infection. For more information about the vaccine call: 454-4645

Clinical Features:
Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes); fatigue; abdominal pain, loss of appetite, intermittent nausea, vomiting

How do people get it?

  • Bloodbourne (sharing needles, transfusion)

  • Sexual contact with infected person

  • Perinatal

Who is at risk?

  • Injection drug users (IDUs)

  • Sexually active heterosexuals

  • Men who have sex with men

  • Infants and children of immigrants from disease-endemic areas

  • Sexual/household contact with infected persons

  • Babies born to infected mothers

  • Health care workers

  • Hemodialysis patients


  • Hepatitis B vaccine available since 1982

  • Screening of pregnant women and treatment of babies born to infected women

  • Routine vaccination of 0-18 year olds

  • Vaccination for high risk individuals of all ages

  • Screening of blood/organ/tissue donors

What is it?
A disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. (According to the CDC) You may be at risk for hepatitis C and should contact your medical care provider for a blood test if you:

  • Have ever injected illegal drugs, even if you experimented a few times many years ago

  • Received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplant before July, 1992

  • Received a blood product for clotting problems produced before 1987

  • Have ever been on long-term kidney dialysis

  • Have evidence of liver disease

Clinical Features:
Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes); fatigue; abdominal pain, loss of appetite, intermittent nausea, vomiting

How do people get it?
Primarily bloodborne; also sexually transmitted and perinatal

Who is at risk?

  • Injection drug users

  • Hemodialysis patients

  • Health care workers

  • Sexual partners of infected persons

  • Persons with multiple sex partners

  • Recipients of blood transfusions before July 1993

  • Recipients of clotting factors made before 1987

  • Babies born to infected women


  • Screening of blood/organ/tissue donors

  • Counseling to reduce/modify high-risk practices

Santa Cruz County Hepatitis C Task Force

  • The Santa Cruz County Hepatitis C Task Force promotes awareness, advocacy and action for hepatitis C prevention and treatment. The Task Force meets on a quarterly basis and has the following subcommittees; medical providers and community outreach.

  • Interested community members are invited to join health care professionals, people living with hepatitis C, public health staff and concerned members of the community in responding to the problem of hepatitis C.

  • For the next meeting date, call (831) 454-2437

Hepatitis Web Resources


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   Mailing Address: County of Santa Cruz  Health Services Agency
   1080 Emeline Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95060 | Phone: 831 454 4000 | Fax: 831 454 4770
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