What Does It Mean When Different Types Of Blood Tests For Hepatitis C Give Different Results
The first test your provider probably will perform is called an “antibody” test. A positive result means that you were exposed to the hepatitis C virus at some point in your life.
If the result is positive, your provider will perform a second test called hepatitis C virus RNA to see if the virus is still in your body. If the RNA test result is positive, then you have chronic hepatitis C infection.
So what does it mean if you have a positive result for the first test but a negative result for the second?
Drinking Alcohol Can Impede Recovery
Now cured of the virus, Sloan gives advice to newly diagnosed patients as part of a volunteer program with the center for liver disease and transplantation at Houston Methodist Hospital.
A lot of people I see are drinking, and that can lower their chances for full recovery, says Sloan. Youre pouring poison in your liver, and youre trying to cure this virus at the same time. A lot of people wont go through treatment because they wont stop drinking.
How Can I Cover Medication Costs
New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are effective and can achieve cures of over 90%. 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.
Talk with your healthcare provider about financial support that may be available.
Below are useful resources when looking for financial assistance:Private health insurance or drug plansIf you have private health insurance or a drug plan at work, you may be able to have the medication paid through your plan. Please consult your private health insurance or drug plan provider to see if your drug is covered.
Publicly funded plansEach provincial and territorial government offers a drug benefit plan for eligible groups. Some are income-based universal programs. Most have specific programs for population groups that may require more enhanced coverage for high drug costs. These groups include seniors, recipients of social assistance, and individuals with diseases or conditions that are associated with high drug costs. For more details, please contact your provincial or territorial health care ministry, or click on the appropriate link below.
Available Patient Assistance Programs for Hepatitis C treatment Holkira Pak Maviret
MerckCare Hepatitis C Program 1 872-5773 Zepatier
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What Does High/low Viral Load Mean
Viral load is the amount of virus present in the bloodstream. It is expressed as the amount of viral genetic material per milliliter of blood. The amount of virus does not predict how severe the liver disease is or will become. The level of the viral load does not tell us anything about the risk of liver damage or how sick someone is. In hepatitis C, it matters if virus is present or absent. Some treatment regimens can be shortened if the patient has a low viral load to start with, but most often, treatment regimens are the same for people with high hepatitis C viral loads or low viral loads.
The RNA test is essential for making the diagnosis of hepatitis C infection–having a positive RNA test is the definition of having infection. After the diagnosis is made, the RNA level does not need to be checked over and over unless it is checked during the time that the patient is undergoing treatment. During treatment, regular RNA tests are done to follow the dropping virus level until it reaches an undetectable state. But before treatment and after treatment, repeated RNA testing is not necessary.
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.
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What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C is with antiviral medicines. They can cure the disease in most cases.
If you have acute hepatitis C, your health care provider may wait to see if your infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
If your hepatitis C causes cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Treatments for health problems related to cirrhosis include medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If your hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed
The virus that causes hepatitis C is transmitted via blood-to-blood contact. Hepatitis C is mostly transmitted by sharing unsterilized needles, from pregnant mothers to babies during birth, and during unprotected sex where infected blood is present.
Hepatitis C symptoms include:
- bleeding easily and bruising
- abdominal swelling or cramps
The infection can be both acute and chronic. During the acute phase, the infection may not present any symptoms. However, left untreated, the viral infection can become chronic, slowly damaging the liver by causing inflammation.
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Should I Be Embarrassed That I Have Hep C
No. Theres an unfortunate stigma associated with hepatitis C, and that can make people shy away from being tested or treated for the virus. Currently, the CDC recommends that all adults over 18 be screened for hepatitis C, and that women get tested during each pregnancy.
As clinicians, we know that people can become infected many ways, says Conteh. We are not here to judge. We want to diagnose, treat, and cure the virus.
Who Should Get Tested
You should consider getting tested for hepatitis C if you’re worried you could have been infected or you fall into one of the groups at an increased risk of being infected.
- Hepatitis C often has no symptoms, so you may still be infected if you feel healthy.
- The following groups of people are at an increased risk of hepatitis C:
- ex-drug users and current drug users, particularly users of injected drugs
- people who received blood transfusions before September 1991
- recipients of organ or tissue transplants before 1992
- people who have lived or had medical treatment in an area where hepatitis C is common high risk areas include North Africa, the Middle East and Central and East Asia
- babies and children whose mothers have hepatitis C
- anyone accidentally exposed to the virus, such as health workers
- people who have received a tattoo or piercing where equipment may not have been properly sterilised
- sexual partners of people with hepatitis C
If you continue to engage in high-risk activities, such as injecting drugs frequently, regular testing may be recommended. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
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What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by a virus. Theres no vaccine against it, and the only way to find out if you have it is to get tested.
Some people with hepatitis C experience symptoms soon after infection. Others may have a silent infection for years until their liver becomes burdened by the infection and symptoms slowly develop.
Generally speaking, people with a strong immune system can often clear up the virus on their own, but others may need medications. Today, most cases of hepatitis C are considered curable and can be cleared in 12 weeks with the help of medications. However, curing one strain of hepatitis C wont make you immune to the other strains.
Sharing Toothbrushes Scissors And Razors
There’s a potential risk that hepatitis C may be passed on through sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors and scissors, as they can become contaminated with infected blood.
Equipment used by hairdressers, such as scissors and clippers, can pose a risk if it has been contaminated with infected blood and not been sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.
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Avoid Cigarettes Drugs And Alcohol
Because hepatitis is a disease of the liver, anything that negatively impacts the liver is absolutely off limits when it comes to curbing hepatitis symptoms. Since stress to the liver will make hepatitis worse, it is crucial for hepatitis patients to abstain from anything that is toxic to the liver, says Wood. This includes not only recreational drugs and alcohol, but cigarettes, as well as many medications. Make sure to tell any doctor you see about your hepatitis especially if he or she is prescribing medications to you and make sure your primary doctor and gastroenterologist know about all medications prescribed by other doctors.
Lifestyle Steps To Get The Support You Need
If you are one of the 3.2 million Americans with chronic hepatitis C or up to 1.4 million Americans with chronic hepatitis B , you likely have concerns about your health. What is hepatitis? What are the symptoms? What should you eat as part of a healthy diet if you have hepatitis? These are probably just a few of the many questions you have asked your doctor.
One often overlooked component of chronic hepatitis is the emotional aspect of the disease. Finding support is important when it comes to coping with a chronic condition. Here are lifestyle steps that can help you get the support you need to live well with hepatitis.
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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.
What Can I Do To Stay Healthy And Protect My Liver
Blacks are more likely to develop liver disease than any other race. If youve been diagnosed with hepatitis C, there is plenty you can do to stay healthy and lower your risk of developing serious liver disease. Like many diseases, hepatitis C is affected by the way we live what we eat, how much we exercise, even how we deal with stress. The healthier you are overall, the better your body can deal with the virus. The less strain you put on your liver, the healthier it will remain.
That doesnt mean you can get rid of the virus by living right or that people who develop serious liver disease as a result of HCV did something wrong and are somehow responsible. Many factors combine to determine the course of the disease. Here are the six most important steps to protecting your liver:
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Getting Tested For Hepatitis C
Seek medical advice if you have persistent symptoms of hepatitis C or there’s a risk you’re infected, even if you do not have any symptoms.
A blood test can be carried out to see if you have the infection.
GPs, sexual health clinics, genitourinary medicine clinics or drug treatment services all offer testing for hepatitis C.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent or limit any damage to your liver, as well as help ensure the infection is not passed on to other people.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C often doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged. This means many people have the infection without realising it.
When symptoms do occur, they can be mistaken for another condition. Symptoms can include:
- flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature
- feeling tired all the time
- loss of appetite
Read more about the complications of hepatitis C.
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Clinical Trials For Hepatitis C
The goal of a clinical trial is to help researchers find new medications, surgical treatments, and other interventions for a disease, explains ClinicalTrials.gov. Those who participate in clinical trials may take experimental drugs or use medical devices to determine their effectiveness, and report any side effects they experience with a particular treatment.
What Exactly Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection thats super sly half of those who have it are unaware they have it. Most people dont show any symptoms so they can live with itsome for decadesand not feel a thing until major complications crop up.
The virus can cause both acute and chronic illness, ranging in severity from a mild illness that lasts a few weeks, to a serious lifelong condition. Its estimated that 58 million people around the world have chronic hep C, according to the World Health Organization. And a 2021 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows hep C infections are steadily rising among 18- to 40-year-oldsinjected drug use being the main culprit.
Though it may be silent, hep C can become deadly when it lingers in your system for too long. Too much time inside your body takes a toll and can lead to major issues like cirrhosis , liver disease, and cancer of the liver.
For reasons unknown, not everyone who has hep C needs treatment. In fact, 30% of people with the disease clear the infection through their own immune system, typically within 6 months of infection , without requiring any treatment. But for the 70% whose condition becomes chronic, treatment is necessary.
While all this may sound scary, hep C isnt what it used to beit can be completely cured with a relatively quick course of treatment.
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If You Have Hepatitis C Can You Have Sex Without Infecting Your Partner
Hepatitis C is a virus that is transmitted by blood. The most common ways people become infected with hepatitis C are through needle sharing, such as during injection drug use, or from blood transfusions received before 1992.
Becoming infected from sex is not common, but it does happen. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is higher if you are with a new partner or if you have had many different partners over time. If you have hepatitis C, the chance of infecting a sex partner is lower if you are with a longtime stable partner and if you are in a monogamous relationship.
If your sex partner is new to you, or if you have many different partners, it is safer if you use condoms during sex to reduce the chance of transmitting hepatitis C.
It is always best to talk directly with your health care provider to assess whether you should start using condoms. If you are in a sexual relationship and either you or your partner has hepatitis C, the other partner should be tested for hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted viruses once a year, or as advised by your provider.
How Should I Take Care Of Myself If I Have Hepatitis C
Good health habits are essential for those who have hepatitis C. You should especially avoid alcohol and medicines and drugs that can put stress on the liver. You should eat a healthy diet and start exercising regularly. Your family doctor can help you plan a diet that is healthy and practical.
Talk to your doctor about any medicines that you are taking, including over-the-counter medicine. Many medicines, including acetaminophen , are broken down by the liver. Because of this, they may increase the speed of liver damage. You should also limit alcohol use. It speeds the progression of liver diseases like hepatitis C. An occasional alcoholic drink may be okay, but check with your doctor first.
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