Can Hepatitis C Be Treated
Yes, since 2010 enormous progress has been made in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are pills that act on the virus itself to eradicate it from the body, unlike older medicines like interferon injections which work by stimulating an immune response. These new treatments are very effective and can achieve cure rates of over 90%. In most situations now, there is no need for interferon, which was responsible for many of the side effects previously associated with HCV treatment. The new treatment combinations require shorter treatment durations , have reduced side effects and appear to be effective at all stages of the disease.
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.
Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist to determine whether you are eligible for treatment. A specialist will help you decide which drug therapy is best for you based on the severity of your liver disease, your virus genotype and whether or not you have been treated in the past.
Hepatitis C Testing And Diagnosis
Doctors will start by checking your blood for:
Anti-HCV antibodies: These are proteins your body makes when it finds the hep C virus in your blood. They usually show up about 12 weeks after infection.
It usually takes a few days to a week to get results, though a rapid test is available in some places.
The results can be:
- Nonreactive, or negative:
- That may mean you donât have hep C.
- If youâve been exposed in the last 6 months, youâll need to be retested.
If your antibody test is positive, youâll get this test:
HCV RNA: It measures the number of viral RNA particles in your blood. They usually show up 1-2 weeks after youâre infected.
- The results can be:
- Negative: You donât have hep C.
- Positive: You currently have hep C.
You might also get:
Liver function tests: They measure proteins and enzyme levels, which usually rise 7 to 8 weeks after youâre infected. As your liver gets damaged, enzymes leak into your bloodstream. But you can have normal enzyme levels and still have hepatitis C. Learn the reasons why you should get tested for hepatitis C.
Increase Your Activity Level
If your doctor recommends weight loss to improve the health of your liver, exercise is one method to do that. But the benefits of exercise extend beyond weight loss and weight management.
Aside from reducing overall body fat, exercise can help decrease fat around your liver. Regular exercise can also boost your mood, as well as your energy levels.
For best results, aim for
Don’t Miss: Is Hepatitis C Considered A Liver Disease
The Outlook For Hepatitis C And Hiv Coinfection
Hepatitis C treatment is currently provided in specialised centres by hepatologists. To expand access, treatment will need to be provided by non-specialists in primary-care clinics. Large numbers of healthcare workers will need training in the clinical management of hepatitis C.
Shifting to this public health approach is one of several ways in which simplified and standardised procedures could help bring hepatitis C treatment to scale provided the costs of drugs and monitoring is reduced.
There remains a long way to go before the world will be on track to reach the WHO target of eliminating hepatitis C as a major public health threat by 2030. Reaching this goal means diagnosing 90% of people living with hepatitis C and putting 80% on treatment, while drastically reducing new hepatitis C infections.58 For this to happen, efforts in each of these areas will need to be greatly accelerated. But until political and financial support for integrated hepatitis C, harm reduction and HIV diagnosis, treatment and care becomes a global health priority these targets may remain unreachable.
What Are The Side Effects Of Treatment
The direct acting antiviral regimens used to treat hepatitis C today are extremely well tolerated. You may experience mild side effects like headache or fatigue. For details on the side effects, review the handout specific to medication you take.
In rare instances, providers may recommend the addition of the medication ribavirin for more difficult cases of hepatitis C. Ribavirin may cause additional side effects such as fatigue, shortness of breath, cough, anemia, or rash. Patients who receive ribavirin may need more frequent monitoring for side effects as well as adjustment of the dose if side effects are experienced. For detailed information on ribavirin, patients should review the ribavirin handout.
Recommended Reading: Do I Have Hepatitis C
Diagnostic Tools Used To Detect
Since the symptoms build up gradually and usually overlap with other conditions, based on the physical symptoms only the presence of HCV cannot be confirmed. A series of blood tests and other exams are required to determine the occurrence of the infection.
- Blood tests include detecting the antibodies via antibody enzyme immunoassay or ELISA. If positive, then the viral load is calculated to determine the extent of infection.
- Liver biopsy is conducted in which a small sample of the infected liver tissue is removed for testing the presence of the HCV.
- Transient Elastography is also used. In this method, the stiffness of the liver tissue is estimated by transmitting vibrations and measuring their dispersal.
- MRE or Magnetic Resonance Elastography technique is employed wherein sound waves are used to create a visual map of the livers stiffness and presence of cirrhosis.
- Regular screening for the HCV is also conducted to detect this virus before the infection takes up an aggressive form.
What Are The Side Effects Of Drug Treatment
Common side effects for some treatments for hepatitis C may include the following:
Side effects are usually worst during the first few weeks of treatment. They become less severe over time. If you are having trouble dealing with the side effects of your medicine, talk to your doctor. He or she can suggest ways to relieve some of the side effects. For example, if your medicine makes you feel nauseated, it may help to take it right before you go to sleep.
Don’t Miss: How Much Is A Hepatitis A Shot
Viruses That Can Lead To Cancer
Viruses are very small organisms most cant even be seen with an ordinary microscope. They are made up of a small number of genes in the form of DNA or RNA surrounded by a protein coating. A virus must enter a living cell and take over the cells machinery in order to reproduce and make more viruses. Some viruses do this by inserting their own DNA into that of the host cell. When the DNA or RNA affects the host cells genes, it can push the cell toward becoming cancer.
In general, each type of virus tends to infect only a certain type of cell in the body.
Several viruses are linked with cancer in humans. Our growing knowledge of the role of viruses as a cause of cancer has led to the development of vaccines to help prevent certain human cancers. But these vaccines can only protect against infections if they are given before the person is exposed to the cancer-promoting virus.
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.
Read Also: Hepatitis C Viral Load Range
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.
Hepatitis Delta Virus Infection
The hepatitis delta virus is a satellite virus that depends on HBV for generation of progeny virus and propagation. The HDV genome comprises a circular single-stranded RNA of around 1700 bases. The antigenomic open reading frame encodes the only viral protein, hepatitis delta antigen , that exists in two forms, the small- and the large-HDAg, and HDV particle assembly is dependent on the HBV envelope glycoprotein. Thus, HDV can only establish infection in the presence of HBV co-infection. HDV infects 1520 million subjects worldwide and causes the most severe form of viral hepatitis. Several studies have shown that chronic HDV co-infection leads to a more pronounced inflammation and severe liver disease than HBV mono-infection. In addition, HDV accelerates the course of progression to fibrosis and cirrhosis, and increases the risk for HCC development and early decompensation of cirrhosis . HDV accounts for almost half of all cases of cirrhosis and HCC in high-epidemic regions such as southeast Turkey, Italy or Mongolia. To date, no specific antiviral treatment is available for HDV.
Recommended Reading: Tenofovir Hepatitis B Side Effects
What Is Acute Fulminant Hepatitis
Rarely, individuals with acute infections with HAV and HBV develop severe inflammation, and the liver fails . These patients are extremely ill with the symptoms of acute hepatitis already described and the additional problems of confusion or coma , as well as bruising or bleeding . In fact, up to 80% of people with acute fulminant hepatitis can die within days to weeks therefore, it is fortunate that acute fulminant hepatitis is rare. For example, less than 0.5% of adults with acute infection with HBV will develop acute fulminant hepatitis. This is even less common with HCV alone, although it becomes more frequent when both HBV and HCV are present together.
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.
Also Check: Chronic Hepatitis B Virus Infection
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.
Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis C
Doctors usually recommend one-time screening of all adults ages 18 to 79 for hepatitis C. Screening is testing for a disease in people who have no symptoms. Doctors use blood tests to screen for hepatitis C. Many people who have hepatitis C dont have symptoms and dont know they have hepatitis C. Screening tests can help doctors diagnose and treat hepatitis C before it causes serious health problems.
You May Like: How Does One Get Hepatitis
Effects Of Hepatitis B Virus And Hepatitis C Virus On Hepatocellular Micrornas
MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that regulate diverse cell functions including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Recent reports highlight aberrant expression of miRs in hepatic tissue from subjects with liver disease and HCC , and provide exciting possibilities for the discovery of bio-markers for early diagnosis of viral-associated HCC .
For CHB, aberrant expression of multiple miRs has been reported to be associated with HCC development. MIR196A2 polymorphism was associated with susceptibility to HBV-related HCC in a male Chinese population . HBx expression may negatively interfere with DNA repair and tumour suppressors by altering expression of multiple miRs through upregulation of HBxAg-upregulated gene 11 . HBx- and URG11-induced upregulation of miR-148a has been shown to drive cell cycle progression and cell migration by suppressing phosphatase and tensin homologue, thus increasing AKT mTOR signalling . Altered miR-122a expression inhibits HBV replication, changes the cell cycle by affecting cyclin G1 expression and inhibits expression of p27 .
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.
You May Like: Hepatitis C Symptoms Mayo Clinic
Cost Of Hepatitis C Medicines
The newer direct-acting antiviral medicines for hepatitis C can be costly. Most government and private health insurance prescription drug plans provide some coverage for these medicines. Talk with your doctor about your health insurance coverage for hepatitis C medicines.
Drug companies, nonprofit organizations, and some states offer programs that can help pay for hepatitis C medicines. If you need help paying for medicines, talk with your doctor. Learn more about financial help for hepatitis C medicines.
How Long Does It Last
Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months.
Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long condition. More than 90% of unimmunized infants who get infected develop a chronic infection, but 6%10% of older children and adults who get infected develop chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long infection. Most people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop chronic hepatitis C.
You May Like: How Do You Contact Hepatitis C
The Impact Of Hiv On Hepatitis C
The interaction between HIV and hepatitis C affects the transmission and natural history of hepatitis C.13 People who do not receive HIV treatment are less likely to spontaneously clear their hepatitis infection, have higher hepatitis viral loads and experience more rapid hepatitis disease progression than HIV-negative people.
They may also belong to groups that are criminalised and stigmatised, meaning they are likely to experience barriers to accessing health services.14On the other hand, antiretroviral treatment taken to treat HIV helps keep hepatitis C under control. Hepatitis outcomes are better in people who receive HIV treatment. Whereas response to the older generation of hepatitis C treatments was poorer in people with HIV, this is not the case with modern therapies.
Our Areas Of Innovation For Hepatitis
Liver biopsies provide a great deal of information about the extent of damage in a childs liver, but the procedure is invasive and can be both painful and risky. Researchers at Boston Childrens use an ultrasound-based imaging technology called FibroScan that may be able to help doctors assess liver scarring without a liver biopsy.
The commitment and compassion with which we care for all children and families is matched only by the pioneering spirit of discovery and innovation that drives us to think differently, to find answers, and to build a better tomorrow for children everywhere.
Read Also: Hepatitis C And Liver Cancer
How Can I Prevent Spreading Hepatitis C To Others
If you have hepatitis C, follow the steps above to avoid spreading the infection. Tell your sex partner you have hepatitis C, and talk with your doctor about safe sex practices. In addition, you can protect others from infection by telling your doctor, dentist, and other health care providers that you have hepatitis C. Dont donate blood or blood products, semen, organs, or tissue.