Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C, also known as hep C, is an infection of the liver caused by a virus (germ) called hepatitis C virus (HCV). When this virus enters the bloodstream, it attacks the liver and causes illness. Within the first 6 months of getting the virus, a person can develop an acute (short-term) infection. When left untreated, acute infection often leads to chronic (long-term) infection, which can cause ongoing liver damage, including liver cancer, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, and even death. 

Hep C: Teens and Young Adults 

Hep C: Healthcare Provider Information


Acute Hep C Symptoms

Acute symptoms can begin to show up one to three months after exposure to the virus and can last anywhere between two weeks to three months. Since people who have hepatitis C do not always show symptoms right away, it is important to schedule and attend regular checkups for early detection and treatment. 
The most common symptoms of Hep C are:

  • Loss of appetite  
  • Upset stomach 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Stomach pain 
  • Change of color in stool/urine 
  • Fever 
  • Joint pain 
  • Tiredness  
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes) 
Some people infected with HCV may never experience any symptoms and therefore may not know they are infected. It is important to note that a person with no symptoms can still infect others. 

Chronic Hepatitis C

If left undiagnosed or untreated, acute hepatitis C can progress into chronic (long-term) hepatitis C. In many cases, chronic hepatitis C eventually causes mild to severe chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. Chronic liver disease in people with hepatitis C usually progresses slowly, without any signs or symptoms, over several decades. As a result, it usually goes undiagnosed until people are screened for blood donation or from an abnormal blood test found during a routine doctor’s visit.


Hepatitis C can be spread by coming into contact with blood from a person infected with HCV, some possible examples are:

  • Injection drug use (shared or unsterile needles and/or syringes)
  • Body piercing or tattooing (equipment contaminated with blood from a person infected with hepatitis C)
  • Having sex (vaginal and/or anal) with a person who has hepatitis C
  • Sharing a toothbrush or razor with a person who has hepatitis C
  • Getting stuck with a needle that has blood from a person with hepatitis C
  • Infected at birth from an HCV-infected person


Testing Location 

Hours of Operations 

Phone Number 

Long Beach Health Department 
Monday to Friday 

8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
By appointment only

Schedule an Appointment by calling 562.570.4180 

Who should get tested for hepatitis C? 

  • All adults aged 18 years or older should get tested at least once 
  • All pregnant people should get tested during each pregnancy. 
  • All individuals with ongoing risk factors should get tested regularly, including: 
    • People who have ever used injection drugs or shared needles (even just once and/or many years ago).  
    • People living with HIV. 
    • People who have received transfusions, organ transplants, and/or hemodialysis. 
    • People born to a person with hepatitis C infection.  
    • People who have an abnormal liver test or liver disease. 

Why should I test for hepatitis C? 

  • Over 400,000 Californians have chronic hepatitis C, although many do not know they are infected.  
  • From 2012-2016, the number of hepatitis C cases among young people between the ages of 15 and 29 has more than doubled.  
  • Sharing injection equipment (needles) is the most common way hepatitis C is spread. 

What to expect when getting tested: 

  • Testing is simple and can be done by a simple fingerstick or blood draw. For clinics that use rapid tests, results can be ready in as little as 20 minutes. Traditional testing for hepatitis C can take a little longer for results, usually a few days to a few weeks. 
  • These screening tests, called anti-HCV (antibody) tests, can show if a person has been infected within about 6 months after being exposed. Another test, called HCV RNA, or sometimes called a PCR test, can show results within 1-2 weeks after exposure. 


The good news is that there are now new and improved types of treatments available for both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) hepatitis C. It is very important to see your doctor and follow up for proper care and treatment. People with either acute or chronic hepatitis C should avoid alcohol to prevent further damage to the liver. While infected with hepatitis C, it is also important to eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids.  

For more information on the current approved FDA treatments for hepatitis C visit: https://www.hepatitisc.uw.edu/page/treatment/drugs 
If you have any additional questions about hepatitis C treatment, you can call 562-570-4302. 


There are currently no vaccines for preventing hepatitis C, but you can protect yourself (and others) by:

  • Practicing safe sex by using a condom or latex barrier
  • Not sharing any personal items that may have even small amounts of blood on them such as needles, syringes, razors, toothbrushes, earrings
  • Making sure body piercing or tattoo equipment is sterilized (germ-free) and used by licensed professionals
  • When you visit a piercing or tattoo shop, look for their license displayed on the walls or at their station
  • Wearing gloves if you must touch anyone else’s blood
  • Not donating blood, organs, or sperm if you have ever tested positive for hepatitis C


Can I get hepatitis more than once?

Yes, it is possible for someone to get hepatitis C more than once. People who currently inject and share needles, syringes, or other drug preparation equipment, along with those who receive maintenance hemodialysis, should be tested for hepatitis C on a regular basis. If you believe you have been reinfected with hepatitis C, contact your provider for further information and treatment. 

Where can I receive care for hepatitis C? 

Most primary care providers should provide testing for hepatitis C. If you have any questions or concerns regarding hepatitis C, please make an appointment to talk to your current doctor or healthcare provider.  


Harm Reduction Resources for Syringes

Harm reduction is a strategy used to encourage safer drug use and to connect people who use drugs to helpful resources in our communities. Here are some harm reduction resources that may help you or someone you love:

  • Syringe service programs/syringe exchange programs (SSPs/SEPs)
  • Syringe service programs (also known as SSPs, or syringe exchange programs/SEPs) are programs designed to provide health education and access to sterile materials such as syringes for safer drug use.
  • California law states that syringes and Naloxone (a safe, non-toxic easy to administer medication that can reverse overdose and prevent death) may be dispensed without a prescription. Pharmacies and physicians may dispense syringes to anyone 18 and older. There is no age restriction to receive syringes from SSPs, but individual programs may have their own varying restrictions.
National Harm Reduction Coalition Visit this webpage to find out more information about what harm reduction is and the resources offered by the National Harm Reduction Coalition throughout various locations in California  .
There are maps available to find Naloxone, sterile syringes, and other harm reduction resources near you (services offered will vary depending on program)  

NASEN Harm Reduction Locations Map 
  • A direct link to the online list of Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) in the United States. Please note it may not be a complete list of all available programs.
Bienestar Harm Reduction Center Syring Service Program
  • Every Thursday, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm or 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
  • 2690 Pacific Ave #300, Long Beach, CA 90806
  • For more information call: (866) 590 -6411 ext. 113, 130, 154, 139

AADAP Health Intervention Program

Offers health education and risk reduction for women of color and people who inject drugs (PWID), all services are free and confidential  
  • Offered for ages 16-18:  
    • Condoms, fentanyl and benzo test strips, NARCAN 
  • Offered for ages 18+:  
    • Condoms, fentanyl and benzo test strips, NARCAN  
    • Syringe access and disposal  
    • Smoking supplies 
AADAP Needle Exchange SitesEvery Wednesday  
  • West County Medical Clinic: 100 E Market St, Long Beach, CA 90805, 9:00 am - 11:30 am   
  • Long Beach Multi-Service Center: 1301 W 12th St, Long Beach, CA 90813, 9:00 am - 1:00 pm  

Substance Use - Help & Resources

If you or someone you know uses drugs, check out these links to learn more about how harm reduction can reduce risk of hepatitis C:  

Condom Distribution Program

Safe sex with condoms or latex barriers is extremely important for preventing hepatitis C. Here are some resources where you may receive free condoms:  

  • The Long Beach Health Department HIV/STI Surveillance Program has a condom distribution program where you can request free condoms.Click here to learn more.  
  • These are provided for the Long Beach community free of charge and anonymously—once requested, items will be left at a pick-up area that limits interactions with others for your privacy at:  
Location Hours of Operation For more information:
2525 Grand Ave
Long Beach, CA
Monday - Friday
8 am - 5 pm
Please call: (562) 570-4321
You can also visit LA Condom to find locations near you outside of Long Beach that offer free condoms.