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Ultimately, the infected cell is destroyed, either by viral overload or an immune system response.
Hepatitis C usually incubates for two weeks to six months.
The decades he spent as a musician—and indulging in the behaviors that were part of that culture—have also contributed to his condition.
Cameron’s situation is a textbook example of someone diagnosed with hepatitis C: an undetermined date of infection followed by years of slowly progressive liver damage, until one day the liver can’t compensate any more, and scarring, cirrhosis, or other serious changes can set in. It affects more than 4 million Americans, but for the majority of them, it is hidden until the liver cannot take any more challenges, and then the symptoms and complications come on with a vengeance.
In the United States more than 90 percent of viral infections involve hepatitis A, B, C, or some combination. It mutates relatively easily; to date, six different genotypes and 50 subtypes of hepatitis C have been identified.
This tendency to change—called antigenic drift—means that unlike versions A and B, no vaccine has yet been developed against hepatitis C.
Now in his mid-60s, the hepatitis C he probably picked up during his time in Vietnam is seriously impacting his life.
Once inside a hepatocyte, the viral RNA changes the activity of normal ribosomes (the organelles that produce cellular secretions).