When Should I Get Hepatitis C Testing
When used for early detection in patients without symptoms of hepatitis C, screening is recommended at least once for all adults aged 18 years or older, except in locations with very low prevalence of HCV. Screening is also recommended during pregnancy and for patients of any age with risk factors for HCV infection. In patients with risk factors, periodic screening is recommended for as long as risk factors persist.
Risk factors for HCV include:
- Current or past injectable drug use
- Having a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- Receiving kidney dialysis
- Pain in the abdomen or joints
- Nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
- Jaundice or yellowish skin and eyes
Hepatitis C testing may also be performed when liver tests are abnormal or when diagnosing the cause of existing liver damage.
Can Hepatitis C Be Cured
Considerable progress has been made by past clinical trials in the medical treatment of hepatitis C. The rate of cure has increased with the development of direct-acting, all-oral antiviral regimens, and the length of therapy is much shorter. Treatment recommendations continue to change as new medicines become available. Treatment helps to reduce progression of liver damage to cirrhosis, may prevent liver cancer, and may prevent spread of the infection to other people.
What Is The Best Treatment For Hep C
While there is currently no hep C vaccine, there are several FDA-approved prescription drugs that can cure the virus about 95% of the time. Treatment usually takes two to three months. Your healthcare provider will recommend a medication for you based on the genetic strain of the virus , the severity of your liver disease, and the presence or absence of other medical conditions such as HIV and kidney disease.
There are some people who are able to clear the virus on their own without treatment within the first six months of infection . Most of the time though, infections last longer than six months and the body needs meds to kill off the virus.
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How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted
Because HCV is primarily spread through contact with infected blood, people who inject drugs are at increased risk for HCV infection. HCV can also be transmitted from an infected mother to child at the time of birth, from unregulated tattoos or body piercings, and from sharing personal items that may be contaminated with infected blood, even in amounts too small to see. Much less often, HCV transmission occurs through sexual contact with an HCV-infected partner, especially among people with multiple sex partners and men who have sex with men. Currently in the United States, health care related transmission of HCV is rare, but people can become infected from accidental needle sticks and from breaches in infection control practices in health care facilities.
What Does The Test Measure
Hepatitis C testing identifies antibodies to the hepatitis C virus, detects viral RNA, and/or determines the strain of hepatitis C. Hepatitis C testing may involve several different tests:
- Hepatitis C antibody test: Antibodies are a part of the bodys response to an infection. Testing for hepatitis C antibodies determines whether or not a patient has been exposed to the hepatitis C virus at some point in their life. If this test is positive, the next step is to test for hepatitis C RNA which can tell you if you have a current infection.
- Hepatitis C RNA test: RNA is a type of genetic material from the hepatitis C virus that can be detected in the blood. If test results are positive after a hepatitis C antibody test, doctors use a hepatitis C RNA test to look for and/or measure the amount of the virus in the blood. Qualitative HCV RNA tests can detect the presence of HCV RNA, while quantitative HCV RNA tests measure the amount of HCV RNA. Understanding the amount of HCV in the blood helps to monitor response to treatment.
- Genotype test: There are at least six types of hepatitis C, which are also called strains or genotypes. Treatment for hepatitis C depends on the strain, so genotype testing to guide treatment is performed in patients who are diagnosed with an HCV infection.
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Advances In New Drugs To For Curing Hepatitis B And Hepatitis D Announced At Ilc 2021
For Immediate Release
Advances in new drugs to for curing Hepatitis B and Hepatitis D announced at ILC 2021
Thursday 24 June 2021 Leading hepatology researchers announced important new developments in hepatitis research at the International Liver Congress 2021 today. This includes new data on antivirals to cure Hepatitis B and Hepatitis D and the application of infusion chemotherapy with P-1 inhibitors to treat liver cancer.
Other announcements included a review of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on efforts to eliminate Hepatitis C in the USA and some encouraging data from a trial of a new liver dialysis device to treat acute on chronic liver failure .
Scientists and advocates have long argued that if we are realistically going to eliminate Hepatitis B, then we will need a functional cure, said Philip Newsome, Secretary General of EASL and Professor of Experimental Hepatology and Director of the Centre for Liver Research at the University of Birmingham in the UK. The results from the trial of RNAi therapeutic drug VIR-2218 are an encouraging example that a cure is possible sooner than later with potential real-world implications for the 300 million people living with the disease.
Todays official press conference highlighted five studies covering treatment and cure research for hepatitis and acute on chronic liver failure selected from over 1500 abstracts being presented at ILC 2021.
Impact of COVID-19 on eliminating Hepatitis in the U.S.
Who Should Get The Hepatitis B Vaccine
All newborn babies should get vaccinated. You should also get the shot if you:
- Come in contact with infected blood or body fluids of friends or family members
- Use needles to take recreational drugs
- Have sex with more than one person
- Are a health care worker
- Work in a day-care center, school, or jail
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Ive Had Hep C Treatment Before But It Didnt Work What Now
If youve had treatment for hep C before, and it didnt work, dont despair. The new treatments we talked about here still have great cure rates even if older medications didnt work for you. The choice of treatment will depend on what youve already tried, what other medications you currently take , andas alwayscost and availability.
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Hepatitis C is an Infectious virus which is carried from the blood stream to the liver resulting in inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C is symptomatic in the beginning, although chronic infection results in scarring of liver and later leads to cirrhosis of liver, Hepatocellular Carcinoma and fatty liver. Hepatitis C is also called Hep C or HCV.
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Why Cure Hep C
Curing your hep C clears the virus from your body. It reduces liver inflammation and can help reverse fibrosis and even cirrhosis.
Live free from the worry of hep C knowing that you no longer have hep C can help you feel better about yourself. For example, you may no longer feel worried about passing hep C to other people. There has been no better time to think about hep C treatment.
Find out more about the benefits of clearing hep C call the Hepatitis Infoline.
Grace talks about her experience of being cured of hepatitis C with new, highly effective treatments. Theres never been a better time to be cured of hep C.
But Even If You’ve Been Cured It Can Have Lifelong Health Implications
“Hepatitis C is a lot more than just a liver disease,” Reau says. “It has been associated with many medical conditions, such as an increased risk of developing diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.”
While curing hepatitis C significantly reduces the risk of serious complications, like liver failure, liver cancer and the need for transplantation, it doesn’t completely eliminate the health risks associated with the disease.
“Hep C is linked to scarring of the liver or cirrhosis and the more scar tissue that develops, the greater the likelihood of complications,” Reau says. “If there is a lot of scarring, you will need lifelong monitoring.”
Reau also recommends leading a healthy lifestyle to help prevent re-infection and further liver damage: Limit alcohol consumption, control your weight, avoid high-risk activities and manage diabetes if you have it.
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What Is Involved In A Liver Transplant
A liver transplant is considered necessary when the liver is damaged and cannot function or in some cases of liver cancer. Your liver is very important. It is responsible for many functions related to making sure that your body stays healthy and is able to digest foods.
You may be eligible for a transplant if you have chronic hepatitis B infection or some of the diseases that may result from it, including liver cancer and cirrhosis. You will have to complete testing and be evaluated before being approved for a transplant. It is likely that you will be placed on a waiting list while an appropriate organ is found.
Donated livers come from two types of donors: living and deceased. Because the liver can regenerate, it is possible to use part of a liver for transplant. The remaining sections in both the donor and the receiver will grow into livers of adequate size.
People who get liver transplants must take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. These drugs make you more susceptible to infection. However, liver transplants have become more successful over time and continue to improve.
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Cost Of Drug Treatments
The newer direct-acting antiviral medicines for hepatitis C can be very expensive listed at tens of thousands of dollars.
While pricing is often negotiated by insurance companies and other agencies, the process is not especially transparent and can be confusing.
If you need help paying for medicines, speak with your doctor. For more information about available financial assistance, visit the American Liver Foundation.
Additional reporting by Deborah Shapiro.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Treatment
Some people stop therapy because of side effects. Since hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis, and liver cancer if not treated, its vital to stick with a treatment plan.
Newer drugs have fewer severe side effects than pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Nevertheless, you may feel some effects while taking hepatitis C medication. Side effects can include:
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- appetite loss or weight loss
Serious side effects can occur with pegylated interferon and ribavirin treatment. If youre taking these medications, you should be monitored for these serious side effects:
- light sensitivity in the eyes
- trouble breathing because of lung tissue inflammation
- suicidal thoughts, depression, or irritability
- thyroid disease
- elevated liver enzymes
- autoimmune disease flares
Some medications arent recommended if theres evidence of liver damage, like cirrhosis . A co-infection with HIV also affects medication options.
Pregnancy And Hepatitis C
The new hepatitis C medicines have not been tested in pregnancy.
You should not become pregnant while taking treatment as it could be harmful to unborn babies.
If you’re pregnant, you must delay treatment until after your baby is born.
Speak to your doctor before starting hepatitis C treatment if you’re planning to become pregnant in the near future.
You’ll need to wait several weeks after treatment has ended before trying to get pregnant.
Women taking ribavirin should use contraception during treatment and for another 4 months after the end of treatment.
Men taking ribavirin should use a condom during treatment and for another 7 months after the end of treatment. This is because semen can contain ribavirin.
If you become pregnant during treatment, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your treatment options.
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Hepatitis C And Injecting Drugs
If you inject drugs, avoid sharing needles, syringes or other equipment such as tourniquets, spoons, swabs or water.
Where possible, always use sterile needles and syringes. These are available free of charge from needle and syringe programs and some pharmacists. To find out where you can obtain free needles, syringes and other injecting equipment, contact DirectLine
Try to wash your hands before and after injecting. If you cant do this, use hand sanitiser or alcohol swabs from a needle and syringe program service.
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Baby Boomers Are Especially Vulnerable
“The hepatitis C virus didn’t have a name or a screening test until in 1989,” Reau says. “That means people born between 1945 and 1965, the group referred to as ‘baby boomers,’ are at highest risk of infection. They grew up before health care facilities started taking standard precautions, like not sharing vials of medicine among patients and requiring staff to wear gloves.”
The CDC reports that baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C than other adults, accounting for 75% of those living with the disease.
These are some other reasons you may be at risk:
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviors like IV drug use or unprotected sex
- Your biological mother has/had hepatitis C
- You received blood transfusions, an organ transplant or dialysis before 1989
- You were or are currently incarcerated
Natural Remedies And Hepatitis B
When we get sick, we want to get well quickly. Some of us turn to our doctors first, while others may try home remedies or alternative medicine. Many of us do both.
Natural medicine means that no chemicals, drugs or surgeries are used to help you get well. Alternative medicine is simply an alternative to conventional medicine. For instance, in the U.S., ancient healing practices, such as faith healing, Chinese medicine or seeing a curandero are alternatives. So are naturopathy, homeopathy, and herbal medicine. Integrative medicine uses both. Its common for people to use more than one healing method.
In the U.S., we have access to many alternatives, and we tend to apply Western medical concepts to natural medicine. This is most evident in our use of supplements. When diagnosed with hepatitis B, we may want to take something that will help the liver, such as a supplement or herb. Its easier to take something than it is to exercise and eat right. However, everything passes through the liver, and just because herbs and supplements are natural, they arent necessarily safe.
Despite claims on the Internet, no natural remedy has been proven to cure hepatitis B. There may be remedies that improve symptoms associated with hep B, but none has permanently eradicated the virus. There isnt a large body of research on natural remedies and hepatitis B much of what we know is anecdotal, meaning that people tell others about their experiences.
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Medications For Hepatitis C: Youve Got Options
Back in the day, the treatment for hep C was as grueling as chemotherapy for cancer and included weekly injections as well as oral medications, usually a combination of interferon and ribavirin . Were talking 12 to 18 pills a day for a year complete with tough side effects like nausea or vomiting, hair loss, severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Now, thanks to medical advances, hep C is considered curable with oral meds taken every day for two to six months, and side effects are generally limited to fatigue, headache or nausea. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it used to be.
Today, direct-acting antivirals are what’s typically prescribed to attack the hep C virus and stop it from multiplying. These oral meds have dramatically improved the chances of a hep C cure and are now considered first-line treatments. DAAs fall under one of these four categories , which may be used individually or in combination:
Protease inhibitors: Targets the NS3/4A protease enzyme, which is responsible for helping the virus copy itself and drug resistance.
Polymerase inhibitors: This group of DAAs work to block the enzymes that help the hep C virus mature.
Protein inhibitors: These zone in on the protein that’s in charge of assembling new hep C virus particles and replicating the virus itself.
Combination DAAs: By combining several DAA drugs, youll attack the virus in multiple ways and avoid drug resistance.