Whos At Risk For Hepatitis C Reinfection
Research, including a study published in March 2018 in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis, suggests that 1 percent of all people who are cured of hepatitis C are eventually reinfected. Your odds are based largely on whether you engage in behaviors that increase the odds of reinfection, such as injecting drugs. Its not necessarily the drug, says Reau. Its the behavior.
Risk factors for HCV reinfection include:
- Injecting or inhaling illegal drugs
- Having HIV
- Getting a piercing or tattoo with equipment thats not properly sterilized
- Having sex with multiple partners without using a condom, especially if youre a man who has sex with men
- Being a healthcare worker whos accidentally exposed to infected blood
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.
What The Cdc Recommends
Were you born between 1945 and 1965? If so, then youre a member of the Hepatitis C generation. The CDC recently recommended that all people born between during this time have a 1-time screening test for Hepatitis C. We now have new drugs that can treat and cure Hepatitis C so you should go get tested today.
The life you save may be your own! Please contact your local healthcare provider.
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The Different Types Of Hepatitis
“In the United States, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are the most common strains of the virus,” says Dr. Pearlman. But there are a variety of other strains, too. Learn all about them below.
Hepatitis A: Caused by the hepatitis A virus , this is the most harmless type of all. Typically a short-term disease, this virus presents with symptoms that typically last about 2 months before disappearing. This strain is incredibly contagious, but there’s a hepatitis A vaccine that has made the virus much less prevalent.
Hepatitis B: A version of viral hepatitis caused by the hepatitis B virus, Hep B can cause short- or long-term complications. It’s an especially risky infection for infants. But the hepatitis B vaccine has greatly decreased the instances of Hepatitis B, especially in the United States.
Hepatitis C: Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus, and is the most common hepatitis infection. The virus can be acute , or it can cause chronic conditions as severe as liver cirrhosis and cancer. There is no vaccine for this strain. But in individuals who have access to hepatitis testing and treatment, antiviral medication is effective more than 95 percent of the time.
Hepatitis D:Hepatitis D is caused by the hepatitis D virus. What sets this strain apart from others is that it can only occur if hepatitis B is present, explains Dr. Pearlman. About 5 percent of people with Hepatitis B also develop this strain.
We Have A Cure For Hepatitis C Why Are Rates So High
We have had the ability to cure many people of hepatitis C — a common viral infection of the liver — since 2011. These new drugs are effective at curing most strains of the virus and have far fewer side effects than earlier generations of treatment. Despite these major scientific advances, however, hepatitis C rates remain high, particularly among those who are also living with HIV, as well as among people in prison and people using drugs, particularly drugs taken by injection.
Our lack of progress toward eliminating hepatitis lies in a poor screening and surveillance system, the continuing opioid epidemic, and the high cost of the cures — which has led many insurers, most notably Medicaid, to limit treatment to those who are already suffering some of the long-term consequences of this infection.
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Ive Never Used Iv Drugs Or Been Stuck With A Dirty Needle How Did I Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is usually spread through direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease. It can also be transmitted by needles used for tattooing or body piercing. In rare cases, hepatitis C can be passed from a mother to her unborn baby. This virus can be transmitted through sex and sharing razors or toothbrushes. These occurrences are also rare. Many times, the cause of hepatitis C is never found.
How Will My Provider Monitor Me During The Treatment
Your provider will meet with you during treatment to review how well you are tolerating treatment and review laboratory results. Laboratory tests help keep tabs on your health, track the viral load, and determine your response to treatment. You will be given specific dates to go get your blood tested at the lab during and after the treatment.
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What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus . It is a chronic illness . If you have hepatitis C, you need to be monitored carefully by a doctor because it can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Cirrhosis from hepatitis C is a leading cause of liver failure and someone who has it may need a liver transplant. Most people who are infected with hepatitis C dont experience any symptoms for years. The symptoms may gradually develop and may include
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal tenderness on the area over your liver
As the disease progresses, hepatitis C can cause liver damage. In many cases, there are no symptoms until liver problems develop. If symptoms of liver problems do appear, they may include
Treatment of hepatitis C
Living With Hepatitis C
Coping with hepatitis C isnt easy. You may feel sad, scared, or angry. You may not believe you have the disease. These feelings are normal, but they shouldnt keep you from living your daily life. If they do or if they last a long time you may be suffering from depression. People who are depressed have most or all of the following symptoms nearly every day, all day, for 2 weeks or longer:
- Feeling sad, hopeless and having frequent crying spells.
- Losing interest or pleasure in things you used to enjoy .
- Feeling guilty, helpless, or worthless.
- Thinking about death or suicide.
- Sleeping too much or having problems sleeping.
- Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss or gain.
- Feeling very tired all the time.
- Having trouble paying attention and making decisions.
- Having aches and pains that dont get better with treatment.
- Feeling restless, irritated, and easily annoyed.
Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. Your doctor can help by recommending a support group or a therapist. He or she may also prescribe a medicine for you to take.
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Helpful Tips While Taking Hepatitis C Medications
- Always follow your health care providers’ advice, particularly the instructions on taking your medicine.
- If you have to cancel an appointment, call your provider and schedule a new one as soon as possible.
- Take good care of yourself. Eat well, drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, and try to get a full night’s sleep.
- Learn about the hepatitis C medications you are taking. This includes special risks and warnings.
- If taking ribavirin, use sunscreen, wear long sleeves and a hat, and limit sun exposure.
- Write down your doctor’s name and phone number. Carry this information with you at all times.
- Write the names and amounts of the medicines you are taking. Carry this information with you at all times.
How Common Is Hepatitis C
The exact number of people infected is not known. There are around 200,000 people chronically infected with hepatitis C in the UK. Worldwide, over 180 million people are infected. Rates of infection have been relatively stable in recent years, but deaths from hepatitis C have reduced, thought to be because treatment options have become better.
Most cases are in people who inject illegal drugs. It is estimated that up to half of injecting drug users become infected with hepatitis C.
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How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed
A simple blood test can detect antibodies to HCV in your blood. A positive test means that you have at some stage been infected with hepatitis C.
However, this test remains positive even in people who have cleared the virus from their body. Also, it can take up to six months for the antibody test to become positive after a person has first been infected, as the body may take a while to make these antibodies. So, a negative test does not necessarily rule out a recently acquired infection. A repeat test in a few months may be advised in some people who have recently been at risk of catching hepatitis C.
If the antibody test is positive then a further blood test is needed to see if the virus is still present. This is called a PCR test. This is a more specialised test which detects particles of the virus. Tests may also be done to find exactly which type of HCV you are infected with.
Treatment Of Hepatitis C
The goal of treatment for hepatitis C is to decrease the viral load in your body until the virus is no longer found in your body.
In the past, only two types of drugs were available to treat hepatitis C Interferon, and Ribavirin. Interferon and Ribavirin were used together and were successful in treating Hepatitis C.
Now there are new and better medicines for treating hepatitis C. Direct-acting antivirals are now considered the best type of treatment for hepatitis C.
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How Hepatitis C Is Spread
Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus which means you have to come into contact with blood from someone else with the disease to contract it. It only takes a very small amount of blood for the virus to transfer, for example, on a razor or a toothbrush. Other ways include:
- through open cuts, wounds or scratches
- via blood transfusion before September 1991 or via NHS blood products before 1986 in England
- sexual transmission if you pass on blood during sex
- from infected mothers to babies
- dental treatment, injections, or tattoos if done with unsterilised equipment mainly abroad
- injecting drugs
- sharing any drug injecting equipment such as needles and tourniquets
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hcv Infection
Hepatitis C can be a “silent but deadly” infection. Most people with HCV have no symptoms. But even without symptoms, they can develop health problems decades later and can still pass the disease to others.
- nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite
- belly pain
- joint pain
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Is There A Way To Prevent Hepatitis C
Although currently theres no vaccine to protect people from contracting hepatitis C, there are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
If you receive a hepatitis C diagnosis, your healthcare provider may advise you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
The vaccinations are recommended because these hepatitis viruses can lead to additional health and liver complications, especially in those with preexisting liver disease.
Since you cant prevent hepatitis C through a vaccine, the best prevention is to avoid exposure. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne pathogen, so you can limit your chances of exposure through these healthy lifestyle practices:
- Avoid sharing needles, razor blades, or nail clippers.
- Use proper safety precautions if youll be exposed to bodily fluids, such as when performing first aid.
- Hepatitis C isnt usually transmitted through sexual contact, but its possible. Limit your exposure by practicing sex with a condom or other barrier method. Its also important to openly communicate with sexual partners and to get tested if you suspect youve been exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
Because hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, its possible to contract it through a blood transfusion.
However, since the early 1990s, blood product screening tests have been standard protocol for minimizing the risk of this type of transmission.
Subsequent testing is based on risk. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
What Are The Symptoms And Consequences Of Infection
Approximately 20 percent of persons exposed to the virus develop symptoms which may include jaundice , fatigue, dark-colored urine, stomach pain, loss of appetite and nausea. After the initial infection, 15-25 percent will recover and 75-85 percent will become chronically infected . Approximately 70 percent of persons chronically infected may develop liver disease, sometimes decades after initial infection.
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What Are The Symptoms And How Does Hepatitis C Progress
Many people with hepatitis C feel entirely well and have few or no symptoms. Any symptoms that may be present are often initially thought to be due to another illness. This may mean that hepatitis C may be diagnosed when you have had the virus for some time. Many people have hepatitis C without knowing it.
It is helpful to think of two phases of infection with HCV. An acute phase when you first become infected and a chronic phase in people where the virus remains long-term.
Hepatitis C: Information For Patients
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hepatitis-c-patient-re-engagement-exercise/hepatitis-c-information-for-patients
Hepatitis C, also called HepC or HCV, is a virus carried in the blood which infects and attacks the liver and can be fatal.
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How Do My Healthcare Professional And I Decide On Treatment
Your healthcare professional will look at your health history and decide if treatment is right for you. The treatment you receive and the length of treatment may depend on:
- how much virus is in your body
- your genotype of hep C
- whether you have liver damage
- whether or not youve been treated previously
Can Hepatitis C Be Prevented Or Avoided
The only way to prevent hepatitis C is to avoid coming in contact with an infected persons blood. Always have protected sex . Dont do intravenous drugs. Dont share personal care items with a person who has hepatitis C. If youre a health care worker, follow your workplaces standard safety practices.
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Awareness Prevention And Early Diagnosis Are Essential
There’s a good reason why hepatitis C is known as a “silent killer.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 3.2 million Americans live with chronic hepatitis C infection, which is transmitted through infected bodily fluids like blood and semen, and causes inflammation of the liver. Yet up to 75% of people who have hepatitis C aren’t aware they have it.
Most of those living with the virus experience only mild symptoms or don’t have any symptoms at all until they develop serious liver damage or another life-threatening liver disease. Unfortunately, that means they aren’t getting diagnosed and treatment is delayed until the later stages when irreversible liver damage has occurred.
Here, hepatologistNancy Reau, MD, associate director of the Solid Organ Transplant Program at Rush University Medical Center, explains who is at risk for hepatitis C and offers advice to help you protect yourself.
The Hepatitis B Vaccine
The hepatitis B vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent hepatitis B. Its usually divided into three doses, which are given over the course of six months. In many countries, infants receive their first dose of the vaccine at birth.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all children under the age of 19 be vaccinated if they havent already received the vaccination. Adults can also get the hepatitis B vaccine, and its generally recommended if you have an increased risk of infection due to:
- traveling to or living in a region where hepatitis B is common
- being sexually active with more than one partner
- working in a medical setting
- using intravenous drugs
If youve been exposed to the hepatitis B virus and havent been vaccinated, try to see a doctor right away. They can administer the first dose of the vaccine, though youll need to follow up to receive the remaining doses over the next few months.
They can also prescribe a medication called
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What About Patients With Hepatitis C Who Also Have Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B virus can flare in patients who are co-infected with hepatitis B and hepatitis C and are taking medication for hepatitis C. This has been reported as a potential risk for patients who are taking hepatitis C treatment and have underlying hepatitis B as well. The flare usually occurs within a few weeks after the patient starts taking medication for hepatitis C. Therefore, patients who have both hepatitis B and hepatitis C should be seen by a hepatitis expertbeforestarting treatment of the hepatitis C they may need to start taking hepatitis B treatment to avoid a hepatitis B flare.