How Is Hepatitis C Spread Will My Loved Ones Catch It From Me
Household transmission of hepatitis C is extremely rare. Here are some ways the virus is transmitted:
The number one risk factor for infection and transmission is sharing needles for intravenous drug use. Most people who use IV drugs become infected with HCV within one year of sharing needles. Learn more.
What Are Hepatitis A & B
Hepatitis A is caused by a virus found in feces . Hepatitis A is transmitted through the fecal-oral route, which means you have ingested or consumed infected feces. The most common way this happens is through swallowing contaminated food or water. You can also get it through sexual acts like rimming or sucking someone off immediately after penetrative anal sex. In either case, the virus can be transmitted by tiny amounts of feces that you may not even see. Foods and liquids get contaminated by hands that arent washed, or arent washed right. Pots, pans, plates, knives, forks, and serving spoons, etc can also be contaminated if not cleaned properly. And sometimes sewage pollution can contaminate food or drinking supplies.
Almost everyone infected with Hepatitis A recovers completely in about 4 to 8 weeks You may have no symptoms, or you may suffer from nausea, vomiting, jaundice , diarrhea, and/or an extreme lack of energy. Hepatitis A is rarely dangerous unless you also have Hepatitis C. When you have active Hepatitis A, you can pass the virus on to another person even if you have no symptoms. Once you recover, you cant spread Hepatitis A and youre immune to getting it again. This is because your immune system develops antibodies that are able to fight off future exposures to Hepatitis A.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Treatment
The direct acting antiviral regimens used to treat hepatitis C today are extremely well tolerated. You may experience mild side effects like headache or fatigue. For details on the side effects, review the handout specific to medication you take.
In rare instances, providers may recommend the addition of the medication ribavirin for more difficult cases of hepatitis C. Ribavirin may cause additional side effects such as fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, anemia, or rash. Patients who receive ribavirin may need more frequent monitoring for side effects as well as adjustment of the dose if side effects are experienced. For detailed information on ribavirin, patients should review the ribavirin handout.
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What Effects Does Hepatitis C Have During Pregnancy
Hepatitis C can be passed on from a pregnant woman to her child during pregnancy and birth, but this is rare. The risk of passing hepatitis on is slightly higher for mothers with both HIV and hepatitis C .
Antivirals used to treat hepatitis are not currently recommended for pregnant women. This is because there isnât enough information to know if the drugs are safe for your unborn baby.
If you have hepatitis C and are pregnant speak to your doctor. They will be able to give you advice on how to keep yourself and your baby safe during pregnancy and birth.
If youâre planning to have a baby, your doctor may recommend that you treat the hepatitis C before you get pregnant.
Breastfeeding with hepatitis C is considered safe. But if you have cracked or bleeding nipples, itâs generally recommended to stop breastfeeding until they have healed.
Sharing Personal Care Items
The chances of spreading hepatitis C within your household are low but possible. To be safe, dont 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 & Practicefound that while regulations to safeguard the public exist in most states, its 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.
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Hepatitis And Sex: Frequently Asked Questions
Itâs widely known that viral hepatitis can spread through consuming contaminated food or sharing dirty hypodermic needles. But the liver-destroying disease can also sometimes be spread through sexual contact. Hereâs what you need to know to protect yourself.
How many kinds of viral hepatitis are there?
Can all types be spread by sexual contact?
Hepatitis A spreads via fecal-oral contact, which can occur if there is direct oral-anal contact or contact with fingers or objects that have been in or near the anus of an infected person. If even a microscopic amount of virus-laden feces gets into the mouth, infection potentially can result.
Are men and women equally at risk of getting and spreading hepatitis through sex?
The risk is determined by a personâs behavior, not their gender, although some studies have shown that it is easier for a man to transmit HCV to a woman than vice versa.
Men who have sex with men are 10 to 15 times more likely than the general population to be infected with hepatitis B.
How can I make sure my partner is free of hepatitis before we have sex?
Are some sex acts especially likely to transmit hepatitis?
Any sexual activity that might cause abrasions, cuts, or other trauma is especially risky.
Is it possible to catch hepatitis from kissing?
What Can I Do If I Think I Have Hepatitis C
A doctor or sexual health clinician can test you to see if you have hepatitis C. If you do, effective treatment with fewer side effects than the older medicine is available and you can discuss how to avoid infecting your sexual partners or people you live with.
It can take three to six months before the blood test for hepatitis C will be able to detect signs of infection in your blood. For people with HIV who may be immunocompromised, the antibody may not be detectable and it may be necessary to request an RNA test which detects the virus.
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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.
Is Everyone Around Me Now At Risk
The hepatitis C infection can only occur if the blood of an infected person is able to enter another persons body. It is the blood that is infectious, not the person. The virus cannot be transmitted by touching, kissing, hugging or by sharing cutlery.
Am I sexually infectious?
The risk of sexual transmission is debated, but it is generally accepted as being very low much lower than many other identified transmission routes for hepatitis C.
Choices about sexual behaviour are personal and some couples decide that such a low risk is acceptable and continue to have unprotected sex. Other couples, however, decide to use protection.
Unprotected sexual intercourse could be a risk but the likelihood of transmitting the virus without any blood contact is considered very small.
The risk of sexual transmission is increased if blood is present, if you have multiple sexual partners, or if you have other sexually transmitted infections.
In addition, the risk of sexual transmission is increased if the person also has HIV.
Can I transmit hepatitis C in other ways?
Sharing things such as razor blades, nail scissors, toothbrushes and hair clippers poses a risk. If your blood gets onto one of these things, someone else using them might become infected if they also cut themselves.
It seems that HCV can live outside the body in dried blood for varying levels of time. This can vary between sixteen hours to four days.
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Should You Get Tested
The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 18 get tested for Hepatitis C. But you should especially consider being tested if you:
- Were born between 1945 and 1965
- Have used injected drugs
- Were born to a mother who had hepatitis C
- Were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987
- Got a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- Have been a long-term hemodialysis patient
- Work in health care or public safety and were exposed to blood through a needle stick or other sharp object injury
If you get tested and find out you have hepatitis C, tell your sex partner and anyone else who may have been exposed to your blood, including through drug use.
Who Should Get Tested For Hcv
According to current CDC guidelines, everyone in the baby-boom generation should get tested. In addition, the CDC recommends testing for anyone who has ever injected drugs, even if it was years ago, and even if it was only once. Anyone treated for a blood clotting condition before 1987, the year hepatitis C was discovered, should get tested. The same is true for anyone who received a blood transfusion before 1992, the year blood detection was widely implemented.
The CDC also recommends testing for anyone who has been on long-term hemodialysis for kidney disease or anyone who has been exposed to potentially contaminated blood via accidental needle stick or injury with a sharp object. Babies born to a mother with hepatitis C should also be tested, although the CDC recommends waiting to test until the child is at least 18 months old. The child is likely to still have hepatitis C-fighting antibodies for months after birth, so an earlier test might register a false positive.
Finally, the CDC recommends universal testing for anyone who has HIV, as the risk factors for the two infections are similar.
Image credit: jarun011 for iStock via Thinkstock.
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Are There Supplements That Are Bad For My Liver
Taking too many vitamin and mineral supplements may do more harm than good to a damaged liver.
Poor Infection Control For Tattooing And Piercing
The notes that HCV may be transmitted by receiving tattoos or piercings from unregulated settings with poor infection control standards.
Commercially licensed tattooing and piercing businesses are generally thought to be safe.
More informal settings may not have adequate safeguards to help avoid the spread of infections. Receiving a tattoo or piercing in settings such as in a prison or in a home with friends carries a of HCV transmission
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Can You Get Hepatitis From Kissing
All possibilities must be considered in trying to determine how unknown sources of Hepatitis C infection took place. Although Hepatitis C has been detected in saliva, the necessary conditions render it unlikelybut not impossibleto be transmitted by kissing or through the sharing of a toothbrush.
Before anybody panics about these potential risks, remember that there are conditions accompanying these possible modes of transmission:
- The person with the virus must have a viral load over one million.
- Both parties involved have gum disease.
While experts view the risk of transmitting this disease through saliva as extremely low, it is recommended to maintain good oral hygiene, and toothbrushes be used solely by their owners.
A Closer Look At Hepatitis Transmission
Heres a more detailed look at how different types of hepatitis are transmitted:
- Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and water and is thus fecal-oral.
- Hepatitis B is transmitted by blood, needles, and sex. Hepatitis B can also be passed along during delivery from a mother to her newborn.
- Hepatitis C is transmitted by needles and blood.
- Hepatitis D can only be transmitted to a person who already has hepatitis B. Hepatitis D is transmitted by blood, needles, and sex. Hepatitis D can also be transmitted during delivery from a mother to her newborn.
- Hepatitis E is transmitted by means of contaminated water. Like hepatitis A, hepatitis E is fecal-oral.
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Effective Treatments Are Available For Hepatitis C
New medication to treat for HCV have been approved in recent years. These treatments are much better than the previously available treatment because they have few side effects and do not need to be injected. There are several direct-acting antiviral HCV treatments that cure more than 95% of people who take them in 8 to 12 weeks. HCV treatment dramatically reduces deaths among people with HCV infection, and people who are cured of HCV are much less likely to develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.
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Complications Of Hepatitis C
If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver .
Over time, this can cause the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop.
Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.
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How Can The Spread Of Hepatitis C Be Prevented
People who have had hepatitis C should remain aware that their blood is potentially infectious.
- Do not shoot drugs if you shoot drugs, stop and get into a treatment program if you can’t stop, never share needles, syringes, water or “works”, and get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
- Do not share personal care items that might have blood on them .
- If you are a health care or public safety worker, always follow routine barrier precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- Consider the risks if you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing. You might get infected if the tools have someone else’s blood on them or if the artist or piercer does not follow good health practices.
- HCV can be spread by sex, but this is rare. If you are having sex with more than one steady sex partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. You should also get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
- If you are infected with HCV, do not donate blood, organs or tissue.
Is Banana Good For Hepatitis B
Bananas have emerged as the best candidate to deliver a bite-sized vaccine for hepatitis B virus to millions of people in developing countries, according to an article scheduled for the June 1 issue of ACS Biotechnology Progress, a bi-monthly journal co-published with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers
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Tests To Diagnose Hepatitis C
How is Hepatitis C diagnosed?
There are two main blood tests typically used to diagnose Hepatitis C. First, youll have a screening test that shows if youve ever had Hepatitis C at some point in your life. If this test is positive, youll have a second test to see if you have Hepatitis C now. These blood tests are described below:
Hepatitis C antibody test
This is the screening test used by doctors to show whether or not you have ever been exposed to Hepatitis C at some time in your life, by detecting antibodies in your blood. Antibodies are substances your body makes to fight off all kinds of infections. If you were ever infected with Hepatitis C, your body would have made antibodies to fight the virus.
If the test result is:
- Negative, it means you have not been exposed to Hepatitis C and further testing is usually not needed.
- Positive, you have had Hepatitis C at some point. However, it does not tell you whether you have it now. Youll need to see your doctor for another test the Hepatitis C RNA test to determine if the virus is still active and present in your blood.
Hepatitis C RNA Qualitative Test
This test will determine whether or not you are currently infected with Hepatitis C. It is often called the PCR test because of the process used . It looks for the genetic material of the Hepatitis C virus in your blood.
If the test result is:
Hepatitis C RNA Quantitative Test