Hepatitis C Symptoms & Treatment
Hepatitis C is found in infected blood. It is also rarely found in semen and vaginal fluids.
Hepatitis C is mainly passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or sharing other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.
You can prevent hepatitis C by never sharing needles and syringes, practising safer sex, and avoiding unlicensed tattoo parlours and acupuncturists.
Hepatitis C will often not have any noticeable symptoms, but a simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have hepatitis C.
In the early stages, some peoples bodies can clear a hepatitis C infection on their own, others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection.
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can lead to permanent liver damage.
Hepatitis C is part of a group of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver.
Its mainly passed on through contaminated needles, either from injecting drugs or from needle stick injuries in healthcare settings. It can also be transmitted sexually, especially during anal sex or other types of sex that may involve blood.
Some groups are more at risk of getting hepatitis C than others, including people who use drugs, people in prisons, men who have sex with men, health workers and people living with HIV.
Sharing Personal Care Items
The chances of spreading hepatitis C within your household are low but possible. To be safe, don’t share personal care items that could be contaminated with blood, Lee says. These include razors, toothbrushes, cuticle scissors, and nail clippers.
In addition, be mindful when you go to nail salons or barbershops, where the same tools are used on all customers. A study published in the November-December 2014 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice found that while regulations to safeguard the public exist in most states, it’s unknown how many businesses comply with them. Ask about tool-sterilization procedures before you frequent these establishments. You can also bring your own nail care supplies.
Whos At Risk For Hepatitis C
You might be more likely to get it if you:
- Inject or have injected street drugs
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
- Got clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
- Received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplants before July 1992
- Got blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for hepatitis C
- Are on dialysis
- Get a body piercing or tattoo with nonsterile instruments
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Hiv Antibody Levels In Blood Vs Saliva
Consecutive flow assay format for detection of human antiHIV1/2 immunoglobulins. Antibodies indicated in red represent human antiHIV immunoglobulins in saliva that can bind to the HIV1/2 antigen Test line. Other IgG antibodies will bind to the flow Control line comprised of antihuman IgG antibodies, located downstream of the Test line. Following a wash flow, the fluorescent reporter that can bind to IgG on the Test and Control lines is flowed. The lateral flow strip is then scanned to record the presence of the reporter.
Figure shows the results obtained with the WIHS and UO1 samples . The assay results are presented as a normalized value, the ratio of the signal measured at the Test line divided by the signal measured at the Flow Control line . Assay cutoff thresholds are determined from the average value obtained with the HIVnegative control samples. The HIVpositive samples uniformly generated a higher assay value than the HIVnegative samples, apparently independently of the salivacollection protocol. Similar patterns comparing saliva and bloodantibody levels are also observed for other infectious diseases .
Encouraging Others To Get Tested For Hepatitis C
While the odds of passing on the hepatitis C virus are low, you should still tell anyone at risk that you have hepatitis C. You should tell sexual partners, spouses, and family members. Your infection may be difficult to discuss, but anyone at potential risk must know. That way, they can get tested and treated if needed. Read more on why you should get tested for hepatitis C.
Paul Berk, MD, professor of medicine and emeritus chief of the division of liver disease, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City chairman of the board, American Liver Foundation.
Alan Franciscus, executive director, Hepatitis C Support Project and editor-in-chief of HCV Advocate, San Francisco.
Thelma King Thiel, chair and CEO, Hepatitis Foundation International.
David Thomas, MD, professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore.
Howard J. Worman, MD, associate professor of medicine and anatomy and cell biology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York City.
The American Gastroenterological Association.
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Injecting Drug Use And Hcv
Worldwide, most HCV infections are related to injection drug use. This includes medical and non-medical settings, through sharing needles and other equipment.
HCV is a tougher and smaller virus than HIV. It can remain infectious for days to weeks in syringes, cookers, cotton, water, measuring syringes and ties.
Cleaning syringes with bleach reduces the risk of HIV transmission, but it is less effective against HCV.
Using clean needles and your own works each time you inject stops both HIV and HCV transmission .
It also reduces the risk of other infections.
If you caught HIV from drug use, you were probably infected with HCV first, before HIV. This is because HCV is a smaller virus that is not easily killed by bleach, making it more infectious than HIV.
Sharing injecting recreational drugs including mephedrone and crystal meth in UK gay clubs and/or sex parties has a high risk of HCV transmission, see this link.
Tips For Preventing Transmission Through Sex
If youre sexually active with a person who has hepatitis C, there are ways that you can prevent contracting the virus. Likewise, if you have the virus, you can avoid infecting others.
A few steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of sexual transmission include:
- using a condom during every sexual contact, including oral sex
- learning to use all barrier devices correctly to prevent ripping or tearing during intercourse
- resisting engaging in sexual contact when either partner has an open cut or wound in their genitals
- being tested for STIs and asking sexual partners to be tested too
- practicing sexual monogamy
- using extra precautions if youre HIV-positive, as your chance of contracting HCV is much higher if you have HIV
If you have hepatitis C, you should be honest with all sexual partners about your status. This ensures that youre both taking the proper precautions to prevent transmission.
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How Hepatitis C Is Caught And Passed On
Most HCV infections come from blood to blood transmission.
- This is when HCV infected blood directly enters another persons bloodstream. Saliva and tears are not infectious.
- Semen and genital fluids may be infectious but there is less research on this.
- As with HIV, you cannot transmit or catch HCV by touching, kissing, hugging, or from sharing cutlery, cups or dishes.
- Unlike HIV, which dies in a few minutes outside the body, HCV remains infectious for at least a day even after blood has dried, and in some circumstances, perhaps for a week or longer. This is why you should not share items that may contain even tiny traces of blood.
How To Treat Hep C If You Are Infected
In fact, “can Hep C be transmitted through saliva?” is not a question to worry about. The treatment methods will be of great importance if you are infected. The first step to treating Hep C is to stop alcohol intake, which quickens the progression of liver disease. Next, antiviral medications and liver transplants can also be undertaken the infection with Hep C.
Antiviral medications help clear the Hep C virus from the body completely after at least 12 weeks. Although these medications have been available for decades and have been improved considerably throughout the years, they unfortunately still cause several side effects. These side effects include flu-like symptoms, depression, anemia and neutropenia. Because of these side effects, medications are often discontinued.
Fortunately, recent developments have produced better medications that have fewer side effects and require shorter treatment periods. The type of treatment, however, will vary greatly depending on the virus genotype, as well as the existence of other medical conditions, especially pre-existing liver damage and prior treatments. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.
Meanwhile, liver transplants are recommended for patients with severely damaged livers. However, the transplant is not a cure and will still require treatment with antiviral medications, since there is a high chance of recurring infections in the new liver.
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Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor
People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.
People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.
Is Hepatitis C Sexually Transmitted
Can hepatitis C be spread through sexual contact?
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus . The disease can be passed from person to person.
As with many infections, HCV lives in blood and bodily fluids. You can contract hepatitis C by coming into direct contact with an infected persons blood. It can also be transmitted by contact with bodily fluids including saliva or semen of an infected person, but this is rare.
Researchers in found that 1 out of every 190,000 instances of heterosexual sexual contact led to HCV transmission. Participants in the study were in monogamous sexual relationships.
HCV may be more likely to spread through sexual contact if you:
- have multiple sexual partners
- participate in rough sex, which is more likely to result in broken skin or bleeding
- dont use barrier protection, such as condoms or dental dams
- dont use barrier protection properly
- have a sexually transmitted infection or HIV
Theres no evidence that HCV can be spread through oral sex. However, it may still be possible if blood is present from either the person giving or receiving oral sex.
For example, a slight risk may exist if any of the following are present:
- menstrual blood
- genital warts
- any other breaks in the skin in the involved areas
Though sexual transmission is rare overall, HCV may be more likely to spread through anal sex than oral sex. This is because rectal tissue is more likely to tear during intercourse.
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Hcv Rna Detection In Saliva
HCV-RNA was amplified using a nested reverse transcription-PCR with the two sets of primers corresponding to the 5UTR, as reported previously . Reverse transcription and the first round of PCR were performed using One-Step RT-PCR with Platinum Taq . Program parameters were 55°C for 30 min, 94°C for 2 min, and 40 cycles of 94°C for 30 sec, 56°C for 30 sec, and 72°C for 30 sec. The second round of PCR was performed using BioMix and 2 l of first-round PCR product. Thermal cycler conditions were 94°C for 2 min and 40 cycles of 94°C for 30 sec, 60°C for 30 sec, and 72°C for 30 sec. The 305 and 251 bp PCR products were analyzed with 1% agarose gel electrophoresis. This technique has a detection limit of 50 IU/ml, comparable with commercial tests used for qualitative detection of HCV genome . A fragment of the housekeeping gene cyclophilin was amplified for each sample as internal control for RNA extraction and RT/PCR reaction, using primers and conditions previously published . In all test series, known HCV negative and positive serum controls were included and the samples were managed with the same precautions during taking, transport and processing.
Infectious Diseases That Spread Through Saliva
If you’ve ever heard of “mono,” then you know of at least one “kissing disease.” Mononucleosis is probably one of the most well-known infectious diseases among adolescents. While many people know that they can acquire a sexually transmitted disease from intercourse, there are also many infections that can be spread through mere kissing alone.
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Viral Infections Detectable Using Oral Fluid Samples
The presence of viable virus in oral fluid specimens is typically demonstrated by screening for viral nucleic acids. Initially, the viral nucleic acid is isolated from the oral fluid sample directly or after centrifugation performed to concentrate cellassociated virus. This is usually followed by PCR amplification of a virusspecific viral nucleic acid fragment or by using a signal amplification technology. For HIV viralload analysis, a frequently used commercial assay, based on viral nucleic acid amplification, is the COBAS® Amplicor HIV1 Monitor Test and an example of a commercial assay based on signal amplification is the VERSANT® HIV1 RNA Assay .
Viral nucleic acidbased methods are more sensitive and considered less contagious because pathogens in the sample are inactivated during the initial viral nucleic acid isolation protocol. However, amplificationbased detection of viral nucleic acid is relatively expensive, requires trained personnel and specific equipment and may not always be proof of an active infection. Ultimately, a cultivation confirmatory test may be needed to obtain a definitive diagnosis. Detection of viral antigens by indirect fluorescent antibody labeling or electron microscopic techniques can be used to detect the presence of intact viral particles. Note that the presence of microscopically intact viral particles in a specific biological fluid/matrix cannot distinguish viable/infectious virus from noninfectious virus.
Prevention Is The Best Medicine
Even though hepatitis C rarely spreads within a household, if you or a family member have the disease, it’s wise to take precautions to prevent its spread especially if anyone in your home is immune compromised, or has cuts or open sores that increase the risk of infection.
In general, use these common sense preventive tips:
- Unless you are in a long-term, monogamous relationship, practice safe sex.
- Clean up spilled or dried blood with a bleach-based cleaning solution and wear rubber gloves.
- Do not share razors.
- Do not share toothbrushes. “Though hepatitis C is not transmitted through saliva, there might be blood on the toothbrush,” Reau says.
Note that hepatitis C is not transmitted by sharing eating utensils, hugging, kissing, coughing or sneezing.
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Can Hepatitis C Be Treated
Yes, since 2010 enormous progress has been made in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are pills that act on the virus itself to eradicate it from the body, unlike older medicines like interferon injections which work by stimulating an immune response. These new treatments are very effective and can achieve cure rates of over 90%. In most situations now, there is no need for interferon, which was responsible for many of the side effects previously associated with HCV treatment. The new treatment combinations require shorter treatment durations , have reduced side effects and appear to be effective at all stages of the disease.
Because these new therapies are very new, they remain very expensive. As such, drug coverage from both government and private companies may require that your liver disease has progressed to a certain stage before they are willing to cover the cost of these drugs.
Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist to determine whether you are eligible for treatment. A specialist will help you decide which drug therapy is best for you based on the severity of your liver disease, your virus genotype and whether or not you have been treated in the past.
How Do You Treat Hepatitis C
People with acute infection do not always need treatment, because their immune system may clear hepatitis C on its own. If you test positive during the acute stage, your doctor may ask you to come back after a few months to re-test and to see if you need any treatment.
If people develop chronic infection, they will need treatment to help clear the virus. Where available, treatment with drugs called direct-acting antivirals can cure hepatitis in most cases. These are usually taken for 8-12 weeks. Your doctor will also check your liver for any damage.
If youve had hepatitis C in the past, youre not immune to future infections which means you can get it again. You can also still get other types of hepatitis, and having hepatitis C together with another type is more serious.
If youve already had hepatitis C, its advisable to have the vaccination against hepatitis A and B to protect your liver from further damage.
Whether you have symptoms or not, dont have sex until your healthcare professional says you can.
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Acknowledgments And Financial Support
Samples from one cohort used in this study were collected by the Women’s Interagency HIV Study and its associated Collaborative Study Groups. Kathryn Anastos is acknowledged for providing, selecting and shipping the paired saliva and serum samples from the WIHS cohort collection The Bronx/Manhattan WIHS is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and cofunded by the National Cancer Institute. Cheryl Barber is acknowledged for organizing the UO1 collection bank. Collection of the UO1 sample bank, development and validation and of the UCPLF antibody assay was performed, in part, with financial support from the US National Institutes of Health grants UO1DE017855 and R01AI094599.
The Types Of Viral Hepatitis
There are five main types of viral hepatitis known as hepatitis A , hepatitis B , hepatitis C , hepatitis D , and hepatitis E . That said, there have been cases of acute hepatitis that could not be attributed to one of these five types of hepatitis viruses, alcohol, drugs, or autoimmune disease, which lead researchers to try to find another cause.
Though the etiology of these viruses have not yet been fully established, researchers have identified three other types of viral hepatitis , which they have named hepatitis F , hepatitis G , and transfusions transmitted virus . As relatively new diseases and viral discoveries, information about them and how they work is relatively scarce. We do know, however, that cases of TTV have only been associated with hepatitis in people who have had a blood transfusion.
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