Who Gets Hepatitis C
Persons at highest risk for HCV infection include:
- persons who ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago,
- people who had blood transfusions, blood products or organ donations before June 1992, when sensitive tests for HCV were introduced for blood screening, and
- persons who received clotting factors made before 1987.
Other persons at risk for hepatitis C include:
- long-term kidney dialysis patients,
- health care workers after exposures to the blood of an infected person while on the job,
- infants born to HCV-infected mothers,
- people with high-risk sexual behavior, multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases,
- people who snort cocaine using shared equipment, and
- people who have shared toothbrushes, razors and other personal items with a family member who is HCV-infected.
Can Hep C Go Away On Its Own
There are many ways for hepatitis C to go away without treatment, and its more likely in women or people with symptoms. But between 4-18 months after your first sign of an illness you should be able overcome about 15% if not already cleared by then! It all depends on what kind cirrhosis they have too whether their liver is functioning properly thanks again medical attentionand even whether theres a chance at getting onto list transplanting new organs when needed.
How Do You Get It
You can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water and by not washing hands after the toilet or before touching food.
Hepatitis B is spread:
- from mother to baby
- sharing items that may pierce the skin or have blood on them
- blood transfusion .
You can get hepatitis C through contact with infected blood, sharing needles, syringes and any other equipment and, possibly, through sexual contact. You can also get it with a blood transfusion in countries that do not pre-test blood for transfusion.
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Giving Blood And Organ Donation
If you have hepatitis C, you cannot give blood.
In a recent research study in America kidneys from people with hepatitis C who had died were transplanted into patients who did not have the virus.
All of the recipients subsequently contracted hepatitis C but were treated for it and all were cured. The benefit of receiving a kidney outweighed the risk of not clearing hepatitis C.
How Do You Prevent Hepatitis C
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C but there are a number of ways to reduce the risk of infection.
Never share needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with infected blood, even old or dried blood can contain the virus.
Only have tattoos, body piercings or acupuncture in a professional setting, where new, sterile needles are used
You can also stop the spread of the virus by practising safer sex. Use condoms, especially during rough sex or if youre menstruating. Use dental dams and latex gloves for rimming, fingering and fisting. Knowing the status of your sexual partner is another important way to stay safe.
If you have HIV, taking your antiretroviral treatment keeps your immune system strong. This way so youre less likely to get other infections, including hepatitis C. For more details on hepatitis C and HIV read our in detail tab.
Taking pre-exposure prophylaxis , the contraceptive pill or any other type of contraception apart from condoms doesnt protect you from hepatitis C and other STIs.
Having regular STI tests is one of the best ways to look after your sexual health. If you are having sex with multiple partners, its even more important to use condoms and get tested regularly even if you dont have any symptoms.
If youve been diagnosed with hepatitis C you should avoid sex until you have finished your treatment and a health care professional says its safe.
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How Do You Get Hepatitis B
sharing toothbrushes and razors
sharing needles for shooting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc.
getting stuck with a needle that has the Hep B virus on it.
Hepatitis B can also be passed to babies during birth if their mother has it.
Hepatitis B isnt spread through saliva , so you CANT get hepatitis B from sharing food or drinks or using the same fork or spoon. Hepatitis B is also not spread through kissing, hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or breastfeeding.
Is There A Risk Of Hiv Transmission When Getting A Tattoo Or A Body Piercing Or While Visiting The Barber Or Hairdresser
Persons who carry out body-piercing and tattoos should follow procedures called âUniversal Precautionsâ, which are designed to protect both workers and their customers from the transmission of blood borne infections such as HIV and Hepatitis B. The guidelines state that any instrument designed to penetrate the skin such as tattoo or acupuncture needles should be either used only once and discarded , or should be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized after each use.
When visiting the barber there is no risk of infection unless the skin is cut and if there is a transfer of infected blood. If the instruments are contaminated with infected blood and are not sterilized between clients there is a risk of HIV transmission.
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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
What Are The Chances Of Getting Hep C Sexually
Hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity, but it is uncommon. It is estimated that among heterosexual couples, the risk of getting hepatitis C through sexual activity is approximately 1 in 380,000 individuals. However, you are at a greater risk of getting hepatitis C if you have a sexually transmitted infection or have sex with multiple partners.
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Why Its Important To Get Tested
Because hepatitis C is a highly infectious virus, the CDC recommends that adults 18 years or older get tested for hepatitis C at least once in their lifetime. This is also true for pregnant people during each pregnancy.
To test whether you have a hepatitis C infection, your healthcare provider will perform a hepatitis C antibody test to determine whether you have antibodies that were created in response to the infection.
If your test is positive, your healthcare provider will also perform a hepatitis C RNA test, which accurately determines whether you have a current infection.
Once it is determined you have an HCV infection, your healthcare provider will recommend the best course of treatment. For most people, treatment with antiviral drugs will be started. There are effective treatments that can cure HCV and prevent liver damage.
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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Key Facts About Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver and can cause both acute and chronic liver disease, including cancer.
- The virus is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person.
- About 2 billion people worldwide have been infected with the virus and about 370 million live with chronic infection and liver damage.
- Two thirds of those infected with HBV are unaware of their infection
- An estimated 800 000 people die each year due to HBV induced liver cancer or cirrhosis.
- Despite there being a vaccine, globally HBV kills one person every minute
- About 25% of adults who become chronically infected during childhood later die from liver cancer or cirrhosis caused by the chronic infection.
- The hepatitis B virus is 50 to 100 times more infectious than HIV.
- Hepatitis B is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine.
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Why Getting Tested Is Important
A blood test is one of the only ways to confirm a diagnosis of hepatitis C. Additionally, hepatitis C often has no visible symptoms for many years.
Because of this, its important to be tested if you believe youve been exposed to the virus. Getting a timely diagnosis can help ensure you receive treatment before permanent liver damage occurs.
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Articles On Hepatitis C
If you’ve just been diagnosed with hepatitis C, you may wonder how you got it and worry about passing on the virus to a loved one. If you’ve had the disease for a long time without knowing it, you could dwell on every little incident in the past where you might have accidentally exposed a family member to the disease.
It’s important to remember that hepatitis C isn’t easy to catch. If you take a few precautions, it’s almost impossible to pass on the disease to someone else.
What Do Hepatitis C Symptoms Look Like
Hepatitis C infection can go through two stages: acute and chronic. In the early, or acute stage, most people dont have symptoms. If they do develop symptoms, these can include:
- flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- jaundice, meaning your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow
While for some people, the infection will clear without treatment, in most cases, acute infection will develop into long-term chronic infection. Chronic infection may not become apparent for a number of years until the liver displays signs of damage. These symptoms can include:
- mental confusion and depression these are specific to hepatitis C
- constantly feeling tired
- nausea, vomiting or tummy pain
- feeling bloated
- joint and muscle pain
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver , which can cause the liver to stop working properly. A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer and these complications can lead to death. Other than a liver transplant, theres no cure for cirrhosis. However, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.
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Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis A
Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur from any sexual activity with an infected person and is not limited to fecal-oral contact. People who are sexually active are considered at risk for hepatitis A if they are MSM, live with or are having sex with an infected person, or inject drugs. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing hepatitis A transmission among people at risk for infection. CDC has published recommendations for prevention of hepatitis A that identify all groups recommended for vaccination, including hepatitis A vaccination for MSM.
Can You Pass Hepatitis C To A Sex Partner
Sex and Sexuality
Yes, but it is not likely. Compared to hepatitis B virus and the human immunodeficiency virus , it is less likely that you will spread the hepatitis C virus to your sex partner.
If you have one long-term sex partner, and one of you has hepatitis C and one of you does not, you do not need to change your sex habits at all. But, if either you or your partner is worried about the small chance of spreading the hepatitis C virus, you can use latex condoms. This will make it almost impossible to spread the virus. Long-term partners of people with hepatitis C should get tested for the virus. If the test is negative, you will probably not need to repeat it.
If you have more than one sex partner, you are more likely to spread the virus. In this case, reduce the number of sex partners you have, practice safer sex, and always use latex condoms.
There have been outbreaks of sexually transmitted HCV infection among men who have HIV and who have sex with men. It is recommended that men who have sex with men use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HCV and other sexually transmitted infections.
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Are Men Living With Hiv At Higher Risk
Rates of sexually transmitted hepatitis C are certainly higher among HIV-positive men who have sex with men than HIV-negative men who have sex with men, although its difficult to prove exactly why.
Fierer reasoned that more men living with HIV end up getting HCV through sex because HIV is much more efficient at transmission through sexwhich means that people at risk for getting HCV through sex are more likely to be those who have already been exposed to HIV.
If an HIV-negative man is at risk for acquiring hepatitis C through sex, that means he also might be at risk for acquiring HIV through sex. Chances are, hes going to become infected with HIV first, which is why these cases of hepatitis C appear as though theyre largely affecting HIV-positive men, he said.
The question is, with PrEP breaking down barriers between HIV-negative and HIV-positive men, will the number of hepatitis C infections among HIV-negative men start to rise?
Thats what Ive been saying, said Fierer. We are going to see more cases of sexually transmitted hepatitis C with increased use of PrEP. I dont have a prospective cohort to prove it, but its biological. The sun rises, the sun sets, and infectious diseases are transmitted.
Could I Get Hep C In The Hospital
Before the medical community identified hepatitis C as a dangerous virus, it existed in the blood supply that hospitals used for transfusions or organ transplants. People got hepatitis C if they received a transfusion before we knew how to test for it, says Dr. Fox. Today though, blood is screened before being administered to patients, so the odds of getting hep C from it is extremely unlikely.
There are also cases of babies who are born with hep C, but that has nothing to do with hospital itself: If a woman has the virus, there is a 6% chance her infant will be born with it, too, according to the CDC. For that reason, its important to be tested for hepatitis C if you are thinking about getting pregnant, and also during pregnancy.
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Gay Men Chemsex And Hep C
Group sex and chemsex parties provide the perfect storm for hepatitis C transmission.
The iBase guide Safer HCV sex for gay men is a useful reminder of what to avoid and what steps to take to protect yourself.
The Hepatitis C Trust has some useful information about transmission. They also provide an advocacy service for men who have sex with men who have been re-infected with hepatitis C after previously being successfully treated.
How Can I Protect Myself And Others
You can protect yourself by getting vaccinated. This is especially important if you belong to one of the high-risk groups. Youre high risk if you:
- have close contact with someone with the infection
- are a gay man or have sex with men who have sex with men
- travel to parts of the world where the infection is common.
There is a vaccine which can protect you against both hepatitis A and B.
If youre in a high-risk group for hepatitis B you can usually get vaccinated for free by your GP or at your sexual health clinic.
You may need a booster injection of the vaccination after five years.
If you have hepatitis B, tell people you live with or recently had sex with to urgently ask their doctor about vaccination. Avoid sex until told youre no longer infectious.
Although not as effective as being vaccinated, you can also cut the risk by:
- using condoms for penetrative sex
- a latex barrier for rimming.
If youre a carrier, you may want to tell a partner and explain that youre infectious. That allows them to decide if they want to take precautions or are happy to take any risk.
That way they cannot accuse you of infecting them without them knowing the risk was there.
If youre not vaccinated against hepatitis B and are exposed to the virus, theres a treatment which may stop you being infected. Hepatitis B immunoglobulin is an injection of antibodies. Its best to get it within 48 hours of exposure youll be vaccinated at the same time.
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