Hepatitis C Home > Hep C Virus
A specific virus causes hepatitis C. This organism was first identified in 1989 and is known as the hepatitis C virus, HCV, or the hep C virus. It is a small, enveloped, single-stranded RNA virus in the Flaviviridae family. This virus travels within the blood and then enters liver cells, using them to replicate itself. As more and more of the hep C virus is made in the liver cells, the cells can become damaged and may even die.
There are a few different types of the hep C virus. Though they all cause hepatitis C, each type of the virus has a slightly different arrangement of its genetic material, in this case called RNA. The specific arrangement of the RNA is called the genotype.
The main hep C genotypes (also known as "subtypes") are known simply as genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.
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