Can Hepatitis C Be Transmitted Between People
Yes. Hepatitis C can be transmitted to others. The highest risk activities for spreading Hepatitis C include:
- Sharing anything involved with injecting street drugs, from syringes and needles, to tourniquets and pipes
- Sharing non-sterile tattoo or piercing tools and ink
- Getting a blood transfusion in countries that donât screen blood for the virus
What Medications Cure Hepatitis C Infection
Interferons, for example, Roferon-A and Infergen, and pegylated interferons such as Peg-IntronT, Pegasys, were mainstays of treatment for years. Interferons produced sustained viral response of up to 15%. Later, peglatedll forms produced SVR of 50%-80%. These drugs were injected, had many adverse effects, required frequent monitoring, and were often combined with oral ribavirin, which caused anemia. Treatment durations ranged up to 48 weeks.
Direct-acting anti-viral agents are antiviral drugs that act directly on hepatitis C multiplication.
I Have Viral Hepatitis And Am Pregnant Will My Baby Get The Virus
Maybe. Hepatitis B and C can be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby during childbirth.
If you have hepatitis B, the risk of passing the infection to your baby is higher than if you have hepatitis C. Make sure your baby gets HBIG and the first shot of hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. Your baby will need two or three more shots of the vaccine over the next 1 to 15 months to help keep them from getting hepatitis B. The timing and total number of shots will depend on the type of vaccine and your babys age and weight. All babies should be vaccinated for hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor.
The hepatitis B vaccine is very important. Babies who become infected with hepatitis B have a 90% chance of developing chronic hepatitis B. One in four people infected at birth will die of hepatitis B-related causes such as liver cancer or liver failure. Your doctor will test your baby after the last shot to make sure he or she is protected from the disease.
- If you have hepatitis C, the risk of passing the virus to your baby is believed to be low, but it is still possible. The only way to know if your baby becomes infected is by doing a test. The CDC recommends testing a child after he or she turns 18 months old. Most infants infected with hepatitis C at birth have no symptoms and do well during childhood.
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What Can Happen If Viral Hepatitis Is Not Treated
Most people recover from hepatitis A with no treatment or long-lasting health problems.
Chronic hepatitis B and C can lead to serious health problems, such as:
- , or scarring of the liver
- Liver cancer
- Liver failure
People with liver failure may need a liver transplant to survive. In the United States, cirrhosis caused by chronic hepatitis C is currently the most common reason for needing a liver transplant. Viral hepatitis is also the most common cause of liver cancer.
How Long Do The Hepatitis A And B Vaccines Protect You
During your lifetime, you need:
- One series of the hepatitis A vaccine
- One series of the hepatitis B vaccine
Most people dont need a booster dose of either vaccine. But if you have had dialysis, a medical procedure to clean your blood, or have a weakened immune system, your doctor might recommend additional doses of the hepatitis B vaccine.
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Treatment For Hepatitis C
The goal of treatment is to clear the virus from the body. If you have acute hepatitis C, you probably wont have symptoms, and the virus will clear on its own without treatment. In the case of chronic hepatitis, your doctor may treat the virus with antiviral medication for 12 to 24 weeks.
Until 2011, there were only two drugs available to treat hepatitis C: pegylated interferon and ribavirin . These drugs were often used in combination with each other.
The drugs currently used to treat hepatitis C include:
Who Are At Risk Of Hepatitis A
- People who have oral-sex and anal sex on a regular basis with random partners.
- People who are habitual of illegal drugs.
- People who are already having chronic liver disease.
- People who have blood clots or are continuously suffering from it.
- People who are having HIV or have recovered from cancer. Since both HIV and cancer weaken the immunity system, the risk of opportune diseases like Hepatitis A increases.
- People who are in direct contact with chronically or terminally ill patients.
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Do I Need To Get Tested For Hepatitis C
Maybe. Most people with hepatitis C dont have any symptoms. This means you might have the infection without knowing it. The CDC recommends hepatitis C testing for some women without symptoms.
Ask your doctor about getting tested for hepatitis C if:
- You were born between 1945 and 1965
- You have ever injected drugs, even once
- You had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- You received clotting factors made before 1987
- You have sex with or share needles with someone who has hepatitis C
- You have been on dialysis
- Your liver test results were not normal
- You have HIV
What Is The Treatment For People With Acute Hepatitis C Infection
When people first get hepatitis C, the infection is said to be acute. Most people with acute hepatitis C do not have symptoms so they are not recognized as being infected. However, some have low-grade fever, fatigue or other symptoms that lead to an early diagnosis. Others who become infected and have a known exposure to an infected source, such as a needlestick injury, are monitored closely.
Treatment decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis. Response to treatment is higher in acute hepatitis infection than chronic infection. However, many experts prefer to hold off treatment for 8-12 weeks to see whether the patient naturally eliminates the virus without treatment. Approaches to treatment are evolving. Patients with acute hepatitis C infection should discuss treatment options with a health care professional who is experienced in treating the disease. There is no established treatment regimen at this time.
How effective is hepatitis C treatment? Is hepatitis C curable?
If the hepatitis C RNA remains undetectable at the end of the treatment and follow-up period, this is called a sustained virologic response and is considered a cure. Over 90% of people treated with DAAs are cured. These people have significantly reduced liver inflammation, and liver scarring may even be reversed.
About 5% of people who are treated for HCV infection are not cured by some of the older regimens. These people may still have options for cure with the newer regimens.
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What Is Chronic Hepatitis C
Doctors refer to hepatitis C infections as either acute or chronic:
- An acute HCV infection is a short-term illness that clears within 6 months of when a person is exposed to the virus.
- A person who still has HCV after 6 months is said to have a chronic hepatitis C infection. This is a long-term illness, meaning the virus stays in the body and can cause lifelong illness. An estimated 3.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic HCV.
When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms above, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C.
Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C.
None of the symptoms above mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but it’s important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if there’s a risk you’re infected, even if you don’t have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about who’s at risk of having the infection.
Page last reviewed: 21 June 2018 Next review due: 21 June 2021
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Potential Complications Of Hepatitis C
Chronic hepatitis C infection is a long-lasting illness with potentially serious complications. About 75% to 85% of those with acute hepatitis C infection go on to develop chronic illness. Of those in the chronic illness group, more than two-thirds will develop liver disease. Up to 20% will develop cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, within 20 to 30 years. Cirrhosis affects liver function and causes elevated blood liver enzymes. Up to 5% of people with chronic hepatitis C infection will die from liver cancer or cirrhosis. Chronic hepatitis C infection is the most common reason for liver transplantation in the U.S.
Acute Hepatitis C: What Are The Signs And Symptoms
For acute hepatitis C, the incubation period is two weeks to three months after exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Most people who contract acute hepatitis C do not show any symptoms, the CDC notes. And because there are no symptoms, they never receive a diagnosis. But others with acute hepatitis C have the following symptoms:
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, or clay-colored feces
- Joint pain
For reasons that arent well understood, a small percentage of individuals exposed to HCV about 15 to 25 percent only develop an acute infection that clears out of the body spontaneously, says Amesh Adalja, MD, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Pittsburgh. The infection usually clears from the body within six months. The remaining 75 to 85 percent of those exposed to HCV develop chronic hepatitis C.
Among those who develop an acute infection with symptoms, symptoms typically last only 2 to 12 weeks.
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How Do You Know If You Have Hepatitis B
The only way to know if you have hepatitis B is bya medical exam. There are several blood tests yourhealth care provider can use to diagnose hepatitis B.These tests can tell you:
- If it is an acute or a chronic infection
- If you have recovered from infection
- If you are immune to hepatitis B
- If you could benefit from vaccination
How Is Acute Viral Hepatitis Treated
Acute viral hepatitis usually goes away on its own. Hepatitis A causes only acute infection, but hepatitis B and C often cause . If you have acute hepatitis A, B, or C, you may feel sick for a few months before you get better.
Your doctor may recommend rest and making sure you get enough fluids. Avoid alcohol and certain medicines, like the pain reliever acetaminophen, because they can damage the liver during this time. Some people with acute viral hepatitis need to be hospitalized to manage the symptoms.
If you think you have hepatitis, go to the doctor right away.
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The Development Of Hepatitis C Symptoms
If a person becomes infected, it is possible that it can take 2 to 12 weeks for symptoms to develop from an acute infection. However, most people with chronic Hepatitis C dont notice any symptoms at all. In some cases, a person might feel fatigued or depressed but dont attribute these things to being infecting with Hepatitis C.
How long after exposure to Hep C does it take to show up in a blood test?
If you think you have been exposed to the Hepatitis C virus, the HCV antibody blood test may show detectable levels of the virus as early as 4-10 weeks after exposure. By waiting longer after exposure about six months it is determined that about 97% of people should have detectable antibodies with an HCV antibody test if they have in fact become infected.
With a Hepatitis C RNA test, a person can tell if they are infected just 2 to 3 weeks after exposure.
People at the Highest Risk of Having HCV
When you think you may have been exposed to Hepatitis C, it is excruciating to think that you would have to wait weeks just to be tested to see if you are infected. Often, people will look to see if they have any symptoms to help determine if they are infected or ease their minds.
Keep in mind that in order to transmit the Hepatitis C virus, the blood of an infected individual would have to enter your body. If there hasnt been a transfer of blood, your chances of infection are very low.
When symptoms do occur, they may include:
What Are Signs Of Hepatitis B
When you first get hepatitis B, it is called acutehepatitis B. Most adults who have hepatitis B willrecover on their own. However, children and someadults can develop chronic hepatitis B.
Acute hepatitis B: Signs of acute hepatitis B canappear within 3 months after you get the virus.These signs may last from several weeks to 6 months.Up to 50% of adults have signs of acute hepatitis Bvirus infection. Many young children do not show anysigns. Signs include:
- Yellow skin or eyes
- A longer than normal amount of time for bleedingto stop
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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.
Forms And Stages Of The Virus
Viral hepatitis C is an infectious liver disease characterized by inflammation and gradual death of liver cells, leading to irreversible organ damage. This serious ailment was only discovered in the 1980s and there are still no effective means of prevention, such as hepatitis B, for which there are vaccines.
The causative agent of the disease is a virus of the Flaviviridae family with a size of 30-60 nm, which contains RNA. Only 11 genotypes of the virus have been discovered, some of which have their own subtypes. For Eastern European countries, only 4 genotypes of the hepatitis C virus are characteristic: subtypes 1b, 3, 1a, and 2.
They differ from each other in aggressiveness and pathogenicity. The most dangerous genotype of the virus is 1, which enters the body through the blood, and the most common is subtype 3a, which is most often found in drug addicts.
In total, there are two main forms of infection:
Once in the bloodstream, the virus reaches the liver and begins to damage it, weakening the immune system along the way. Unfortunately, the infection and the incubation period are asymptomatic, so the person simply does not know that they are already sick.
There are 3 stages of the course of the disease:
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What About Pregnancy
If you have hepatitis B, your baby has a very highchance of getting it. Pregnant women should bechecked for hepatitis B by a health care provider. Ifyou are at risk for hepatitis B, ask your provider aboutgetting vaccinated. The hepatitis B vaccine is safe forpregnant women and their baby. The vaccine can helpyour baby if:
- It is given to the baby within 12 hours of birth.
- The baby finishes the vaccine series. Note: babies should be tested after the last vaccine shot to make sure they are protected from the disease.
Don’t breastfeed until you have discussed it withyour health care provider. Avoid breastfeeding if yournipples are cracking or bleeding until the sores heal.Until they heal, you can pump your milk to keep upyour milk supply. Do not feed this milk to your baby.Throw it away.
Hepatitis B is a very serious disease for babies. 9 out of 10 babies infected develop chronic hepatitis B.
Why Should You Test
Youve no doubt heard about the importance of testing, but you may not yet take it seriously. After all, how likely are you really to get an STD?
Unfortunately, the answer is very. According to the American Sexual Health Association, One in two sexually active persons will contract an STI by age 25. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 20 million new STIs occur every year in this country, half of those among young people aged 1524. Moreover, CDC estimates that undiagnosed STIs cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year.
Thats a lot of downsides. On a more specific level, hepatitis C can lead to :
- Toxic chemical buildup in the brain, which can lead to moodiness, mental confusion, slurred speech and unconsciousness
- Sleep disorders that may result from immune and thyroid problems
- Liver inflammation that may make your liver tender
- Inefficient intestines, which leads to poor nutrition and discomfort
- Bladder and bowel problems, leading to difficulty producing waste and abnormal waste
- Jaundice, or yellow skin and eyes resulting from liver malfunction
- Musty mouth from toxic buildup
- Unhealthy blood and spleen, which can result in anemia and bleeding problems
- Weight loss from thyroid function, poor nutrition and other issues
- Fluid buildup in the stomach
- Loss of hair, dry skin, weak and cracking nails
The answer? Getting tested which is where a home test kit comes in.
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