Reactive Or Positive Hepatitis C Antibody Test
- A reactive or positive antibody test means that Hepatitis C antibodies were found in the blood and a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time.
- Once people have been infected, they will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true even if they have cleared the Hepatitis C virus.
- A reactive antibody test does not necessarily mean that you have Hepatitis C. A person will need an additional, follow-up test.
Persons for Whom HCV Testing Is Recommended
- Adults born from 1945 through 1965 should be tested once
- Those who:
- Ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
- Have certain medical conditions, including persons:
- who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
- who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
- with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels
- who have HIV infection
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.
What Foods Should I Avoid
Everyone should avoid eating a lot of fat, cholesterol, salt and processed sugar, even if their liver is healthy. In addition, those with HCV should limit or avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol will speed up liver damage.
Eating properly can help decrease some of the symptoms of Hepatitis C, like feeling tired and sick. Drink lots of water for general health benefits. HCV is not a digestive disease diet will not affect the disease. Your provider may put you on a special diet if you have advanced liver disease.
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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.
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 don’t have symptoms. If they do develop symptoms, these can include:
- flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
- loss of appetite
- tummy pain
- 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
- dark urine
- 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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Hepatitis C And Blood Spills
When cleaning and removing blood spills, use standard infection control precautions at all times:
- Cover any cuts or wounds with a waterproof dressing.
- Wear single-use gloves and use paper towel to mop up blood spills.
- Clean the area with warm water and detergent, then rinse and dry.
- Place used gloves and paper towels into a plastic bag, then seal and dispose of them in a rubbish bin.
- Wash your hands in warm, soapy water then dry them thoroughly.
- Put bloodstained tissues, sanitary towels or dressings in a plastic bag before throwing them away.
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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If I Get Tested For Hepatitis C And The Result Is Positive Do I Need Any Other Tests To Be Sure
When your provider wants to test you for hepatitis C, the first test you will have is the hepatitis C antibody . If this test is positive, it means you were infected with the hepatitis C virus at some point in the past. But this test alone is not enough. You will still need another test to confirm if you still have the hepatitis C virus in your system. About 1 out of 5 people who get infected with hepatitis C will be able get the rid of the virus on their own, without treatment, very early after their infection. So some people will have a positive antibody test, but a negative HCV RNA .
So, the second test that your provider should request is called hepatitis C virus RNA or HCV RNA test. There are several different tests available to check the HCV RNA. What matters is that if the RNA test is positive, then you do have chronic hepatitis C virus infection. If the RNA test is negative, then you may need to have this test again to be sure. If these RNA tests are all negative, then you no longer have hepatitis C infection and do not have chronic hepatitis C.
If your hepatitis C antibody test is positive, be sure that you get tested for hepatitis C RNA to find out whether the infection has become chronic or whether it has cleared. If the infection has become chronic, there are treatments your provider can prescribe to fight off the hepatitis C virus and keep your liver healthy.
Is It Safe To Take Aspirin Or Tylenol If I Have Hepatitis C
Tylenol is an over-the-counter pain killer. It can be harmful in high doses. If you have hepatitis or liver disease, then you can take Tylenol, but no more than 2,000 mg total over 24 hours. In general, this could be one 500 mg tablet every 6 hours, at the most. Acetaminophen is also included as an ingredient in some opiate medications and in some over-the-counter cold/flu medications, so please be aware of the dose of acetaminophen you may be taking from some combination medicines.
Aspirin, ibuprofen , naproxen , and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , can be harmful if you have cirrhosis. They are safe in hepatitis patients who do not have cirrhosis. But, if a patient has cirrhosis, then NSAIDs cannot be taken at all. If you are not sure, always check with your provider.
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More Ways To Reduce The Risk Of Infection
If you arent sure whether you have hepatitis C, get tested. Testing is especially important if you have sex with more than one person or if you have other risk factors for hepatitis C, including being born being 1945 and 1965, having had a blood transfusion prior to 1992, and injecting drugs .
Talk to your partner about getting tested as well, for hepatitis C and other STDs, so you know the risks before having sex. People who are at risk for hepatitis C are also at risk for HIV and other STDs, emphasizes Talal.
What Happens In Your Body With Hep C
Once the virus enters your bloodstream, it heads for your liver. Hepatitis C is a viral infection, and its a virus that lives primarily in the liver, says Dr. Goff. The reason it causes trouble is our immune system tries to get rid of it, but the virus mutates quite quickly, so it keeps alluding being caught. The liver gets caught in the crossfire.
Over time, the chronic infection can lead to serious liver scarring and damage, increasing the risk of life-threatening liver failure and cancer, Dr. Fox says.
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What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a bloodborne virus that causes inflammation of the liver. This virus is present in the blood of a person living with hepatitis C and can be spread through blood-to-blood contact.
In Australia, hepatitis C is commonly spread through sharing injecting equipment including needles, syringes and other equipment. It is not spread by kissing, hugging or sharing food.
Current treatment is effective at curing hepatitis C for more than 95% of people. Treatment cures the infection, decreases inflammation in the liver and reduces the long-term risk of health problems including chronic liver disease and liver cancer.
Accessing curative treatment also prevents transmission to others. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection.
I Had Hepatitis C And Didnt Know It You May Have It Too
In the fall of 1999, I woke up with a strong metallic taste in my mouth.
It didnt matter what I ate sweet, spicy foods or plain white rice the aggravating sensation of iron filings wouldnt leave. Internet searches proved pointless. Doctors told me they hadnt heard of metal mouth, my nickname for it, and told me to get an upper-GI endoscopy.
Before my taste went south, I had asked my doctor to test my blood for hepatitis C. Why request the test? I can only guess. I had recently undergone surgery, and while in the hospital I had heard of hep C, which can cause a host of serious liver problems. Had hypochondria set in? I really dont know.
Within a few days, my physician gave me the result: Negative for hep C.
Five months later, though, my sense of taste was getting worse, with no relief from the bitter taste of metal. Food held no appeal, and the right side of my body ached. I was in a specialists office, setting the date for an upper gastrointestinal screen. He scanned my health record and said, I see you have hepatitis C.
I went blank. I panicked. How could that be? My blood test was negative.
But it was true: The first doctor had misread the results.
I was diagnosed while in my 40s. I checked out my prognosis, and it was terrifying.
A bleak future seemed in store for me.
How did I get hep C? Ill never know.
When I was first diagnosed, telling people I had hep C produced mixed results.
I felt like a pariah in a paranoid and ignorant society.
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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.
How Common Is Hepatitis C
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention think that 2.4 million Americans are infected with HCV. It is the most common infection carried by blood in the United States. Veterans have higher rates of hepatitis C than the rest of the country so it is especially important to discuss hepatitis C testing with your provider if you are a Veteran. But, Veterans are not the only ones with high rates of hepatitis C. Baby boomers have higher rates of hepatitis C than people in other age groups in the country as well. Often, people infected with hepatitis C are not aware of their infection because they have no symptoms and they do not feel ill so getting tested if you are at higher risk is important step.
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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.
How Do You Test For Hepatitis C
A simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have the virus. You may also be given an extra test to see if your liver is damaged.
If youve got hepatitis C you should be tested for other STIs. It’s important that you tell your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested and treated. Many people who have hepatitis C do not notice anything wrong, and by telling them you can help to stop the virus being passed on. It can also stop you from getting the infection again.
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Preventing The Spread Of Hepatitis C
There is no vaccine available to prevent a person from being infected with hepatitis C. Recommended behaviours to prevent the spread of the virus include:
- Always use sterile injecting equipment. This can be accessed from your local needle and syringe program service.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, nail files or nail scissors, which can draw blood.
- If you are involved in body piercing, tattooing, electrolysis or acupuncture, always ensure that any instrument that pierces the skin is either single use or has been cleaned, disinfected and sterilised since it was last used.
- If you are a healthcare worker, follow standard precautions at all times.
- Wherever possible, wear single-use gloves if you give someone first aid or clean up blood or body fluids.
- Although hepatitis C is not generally considered to be a sexually transmissible infection in Australia, you may wish to consider safe sex practices if blood is going to be present, or if your partner has HIV infection. You may wish to further discuss this issue and personal risks with your doctor.
What Can I Expect Over Time With Hepatitis C
Very understandably, almost everyone diagnosed with the hepatitis C virus asks the same question: “What’s going to happen to me?”
Unfortunately, with HCV infection, it’s very hard for doctors to offer an answer. More than with most diseases, the course of HCV infection varies widely from person to person. In about 15 to 25 percent of people infected with the virus, their immune systems attack the virus and eliminate it, and they never know they were exposed. At the other extreme are people who develop chronic infections and eventually serious liver disease. In between are people who carry the virus but never show signs of trouble, and others who have mild symptoms and some liver damage, but never develop serious illness.
Many factors affect the course of HCV infection
How can one virus act so differently in different people? Researchers don’t know all the answers. They do know that men are more likely to develop serious liver problems than women. One study published found that 13 to 46 percent of men developed cirrhosis over a 30-year period of being infected with HCV. Only 1 to 29 percent of women developed the disease during the same period.
The age when infection occurs also makes a difference in the course of the disease. The earlier in life people are infected, the lower the risk of serious complications from hepatitis C infection.
Other health problems and HCV infection
A look at the numbers
75 to 85 may develop long-term infection of those:
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