What It Can Do To You
Hepatitis C is very serious and contagious liver disease that can be mild and last a few weeks or become a serious and lifelong illness that attacks the liver. This can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
If you are pregnant and infected with hepatitis C virus, you may pass the virus to your baby. About 4 out of every 100 infants born to mothers with hepatitis C become infected with the virus. Breastfeeding is not considered a risk. However, if your nipples are cracked and bleeding, you should stop breastfeeding until they are healed.
Use Caution With Tattooing
Licensed businesses that offer tattooing or body piercing are generally thought to be safe from hepatitis C. But getting a tattoo, piercing, or even acupuncture can lead to hepatitis C infection if the equipment was not properly sterilized.
If you choose to get a tattoo or piercing, find out if the business has a valid permit or license. If you receive acupuncture, ask to see your practitioners acupuncture license.
Sexually transmitted hepatitis C is not common, but its possible. If you have sex with someone who has the virus, certain behaviors can increase your risk. These include:
- practicing sex without a condom or other barrier method
- having more than one sexual partner
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Is There A Hepatitis C Vaccine
Currently, no vaccine protects you against hepatitis C. But research is ongoing. A promising study is currently researching a possible vaccine for both hepatitis C and HIV.
However, there are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B. If you have hepatitis C, your doctor may suggest that you get these vaccines. Thats because hepatitis A or B infection can lead to further complications when treating hepatitis C.
Preventing other forms of hepatitis is especially important if your liver has already been damaged.
For Adults And Children
This vaccine schedule involves three doses within 2 months, followed by a booster dose at 1 year.
The initial accelerated doses provide immediate protection from HBV, and the booster dose helps provide long-term protection.
Below is the accelerated vaccination schedule approved for both adults and children:
|2 months after the first dose||1 year after the first dose|
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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Exactly How Long Does Hep Vaccine Last
Years ago, the standard 3-round Hepatitis B vaccine provided protection for up to seven years. However, todays vaccines provide you with more than 20 years of protection.
This means that booster doses are largely unneeded these days. However, it is recommended for certain groups to take subsequent booster doses. At-risk groups include hemodialysis patients and other individuals with seriously compromised immune systems, such as people infected with HIV, chemotherapy patients, and recipients of hematopoietic stem-cell transplants.
Other Important Hepatitis A Vaccine Facts
People who are on hemodialysis and those with AIDS shouldnt worry its safe for them to get vaccinated since its an inactivated vaccine. Whats more, there is no harm in receiving additional shots if a person lost his medical history.
In some cases, prevaccination testing may apply. This is usually done to keep the vaccination cost down and may include people of certain ethnic groups and those who live in areas with high hep A incidence rate. The same rule applies to intravenous drug users.
The protection usually begins two to four weeks after the first shot. In light of the long incubation period of the hepatitis A virus, the protection may start right away.
Hep A isnt treated with any antivirals and the liver has a remarkable ability to self-regenerate. Doctors usually prescribe sufficient hydration, plenty of rest, and proper nutrition, though some people might need to be hospitalized for additional medical care.
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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.
Take Action! CDCs National Prevention Information Network Service Locator helps consumers locate hepatitis B and hepatitis C prevention, care, and treatment services.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Hcv 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
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Can A Person With Hep C Go Away Without Treatment
For these people, hepatitis C will be a short-term acute condition that goes away without treatment. But for most people, acute hepatitis C will likely develop into a chronic condition that does require treatment.
What happens to your liver if you have HEP a?
Unlike other types of viral hepatitis, hepatitis A does not cause long-term liver damage, and it doesnt become chronic. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause a sudden loss of liver function, especially in older adults or people with chronic liver diseases.
What should you do if you have HEP a?
Practicing good hygiene, including washing hands frequently, is one of the best ways to protect against hepatitis A. Vaccines are available for people most at risk. Hepatitis A signs and symptoms typically dont appear until youve had the virus for a few weeks. But not everyone with hepatitis A develops them.
How Is Hepatitis B Spread
- Having unprotected sex.
- Sharing or using dirty needles for drug use, tattoos or piercing.
- Sharing everyday items that may contain body fluids, including razors, toothbrushes, jewelry for piercings and nail clippers.
- Being treated medically by someone who does not use sterile instruments.
- Being bitten by someone with the infection.
- Being born to a pregnant woman with the infection.
Hepatitis B is not spread by:
- Kissing on the cheek or lips.
- Coughing or sneezing.
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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.
Side Effects Of Hepatitis B Vaccines
Immunisations containing components to protect against hepatitis B are effective and safe, although all medication can have unwanted side effects.
Side effects from the vaccine are uncommon and usually mild, but may include:
- Localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site.
- Low-grade temperature .
- In children being unsettled, irritable, tearful, generally unhappy, drowsy and tired.
- Occasionally, an injection-site lump that may last many weeks, but for which treatment is not needed.
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If I Have Hepatitis How Can I Avoid Giving It To Someone Else
If you have hepatitis B and C, you need to find ways to keep others from making contact with your blood. Follow these tips:
- Cover your cuts or blisters.
- Carefully throw away used bandages, tissues, tampons, and sanitary napkins.
- Dont share your razor, nail clippers, or toothbrush.
- If your blood gets on objects, clean them with household bleach and water.
- Dont breastfeed if your nipples are cracked or bleeding.
- Dont donate blood, organs, or sperm.
- If you inject drugs, dont share needles or other equipment.
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- The following is an archived discussion of a featured list nomination. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the articles talk page or in Wikipedia talk:Featured list candidates. No further edits should be made to this page.
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General Information About Vaccination Outside The Us
In developing countries, the pentavalent vaccine, a combination 5-in-one vaccine that protects against five diseases, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hib and hepatitis B, may be given to babies more than 6 weeks of age, and can be given up to 1 year of age. The first dose is given at 6 weeks, and the second and third doses are given at 10 and 14 weeks of age. The pentavalent vaccine may be made available free of charge with the support of GAVI, the vaccine alliance. Check the GAVI country hub to see the resources and immunizations that may be available:
For babies born to mothers with hepatitis B, waiting for the first dose of the pentavalent vaccine is too late and will NOT protect the baby from vertical or horizontal transmission of hepatitis B. Babies born to a mother with hepatitis B have a greater than 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B if they are not properly treated at birth.
WHO recommends the hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth for ALL babies. Plan ahead and inquire about the availability and cost of the monovalent , birth dose of the vaccine, as it is not a GAVI provided immunization. This is particularly important to women who are positive for hepatitis B.
If you are unsure of your hepatitis B status, please be sure your doctor tests you for hepatitis B!
*WHO does not recommend a birth dose of HBIG, which may not be available in all countries. Talk to your doctor if you have questions.
Page updated September 2022.
Emergency Hepatitis B Vaccination
If youve been exposed to the hepatitis B virus and have not been vaccinated before, you should get immediate medical advice, as you may benefit from having the hepatitis B vaccine.
In some situations, you may also need to have an injection of antibodies, called specific hepatitis B immunoglobulin , along with the hepatitis B vaccine.
HBIG should ideally be given within 48 hours, but you can still have it up to a week after exposure.
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Guidance On Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunization
Vaccine providers are asked to report, through local public health officials, any serious or unexpected adverse event temporally related to vaccination. An unexpected AEFI is an event that is not listed in available product information but may be due to the immunization, or a change in the frequency of a known AEFI.
Refer to Reporting Adverse Events Following Immunization in Canada and Adverse events following immunization in Part 2 for additional information about AEFI reporting.
Babies And Children Can Develop Chronic Hbv
You may be wondering why the recommendations for the HBV vaccine start on the first day of life.
Adults who contract HBV will likely not experience long-term complications from hepatitis B. But the same is not the case for babies. As many as of babies who contract an HBV infection at birth from their mothers become chronically infected with HBV.
Children between the ages of 1 and 5 who get an HBV infection have a 25 percent of people who become chronically infected during childhood will develop liver cancer or cirrhosis. Thats why pediatricians want children to have immunity from HBV from the earliest possible age. Many babies and children exposed to HBV receive post-exposure prophylaxis, which decreases chance of infection.
If youre pregnant, youll most likely have a blood test to see if youre positive for hepatitis B. This allows doctors to find out if theres a chance that you could pass on the virus. These tests are highly sensitive and have a good accuracy rate, but they arent perfect. Additionally, a pregnant person may become infected between the time of the test and giving birth. The first dose of the vaccine given at birth lowers the risk of a newborn baby contracting hepatitis B.
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Does Treatment For Hepatitis C Always Work
Treatments for this virus have improved dramatically in recent decades. Older treatments relied on strengthening the bodys immune system and not attacking the virus directly. Newer medicines, however, work directly on the viruss cells.
Todays treatments can virtually cure hepatitis C. Once you complete treatment, your viral load will be checked regularly. If the virus is still undetectable in your blood after three months, youre considered cured of hepatitis C.
15 to 25 percent of people who get hepatitis C will eventually clear the virus from their body entirely. This can be done through treatment, or the body can spontaneously eliminate the virus.
Having the hepatitis C virus once doesnt protect you against contracting it again. However, if you encounter the virus in the future, your risk for infected again is dramatically lower because of your previous infection. The best way to avoid being infected again is to reduce behaviors that put you at risk.
Treatment Of Acute Viral Hepatitis
Antiviral drugs for acute hepatitis C
For most people with acute viral hepatitis, special treatment is not necessary. However, people with severe acute hepatitis may require hospitalization so that symptoms can be treated. If doctors suspect that fulminant hepatitis is developing, the person is hospitalized so that mental status can be monitored, liver tests can be done, and doctors can determine whether liver transplantation is needed.
After the first several days, appetite usually returns and people do not need to stay in bed. Severe restrictions of diet or activity are unnecessary, and vitamin supplements are not required. Most people can safely return to work after the jaundice clears, even if their liver test results are not quite normal.
People with hepatitis should not drink alcohol until they have fully recovered.
The infected liver may not process drugs normally. So a doctor may need to stop a drug or reduce the dosage of a drug that could accumulate to harmful levels in the body . Thus, people with hepatitis should tell their doctor all the drugs they are taking , so that the dosage of the drug can be adjusted if necessary.
If itching occurs, cholestyramine, taken by mouth, is often effective.
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What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is swelling that happens when tissues of the body are injured or infected. Inflammation can damage organs.
There are different types of hepatitis. One type, hepatitis C, is caused by the hepatitis C virus . Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
Hepatitis C can be acute or chronic:
- Acute hepatitis C is a short-term infection. The symptoms can last up to 6 months. Sometimes your body is able to fight off the infection and the virus goes away. But for most people, an acute infection leads to chronic infection.
- Chronic hepatitis C is a long-lasting infection. If it is not treated, it can last for a lifetime and cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis , liver cancer, and even death.
How Is It Transmitted
Hepatitis B is highly infectious, and is spread from one person to another through exposure to infected blood and body fluids . It can be spread through:
- blood transfusions or organ transplantation in countries where blood or blood products have not been properly screened for hepatitis B and other viruses transmitted through blood
- unprotected sex with an infected person
- sharing needles or equipment for injecting drugs
- unsterilized medical/dental equipment and shared/contaminated materials or equipment used for tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture
- sharing toothbrushes or razors
- household contact between family members
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