When To Speak With A Doctor
People who give birth while they have an active HCV infection should speak with a doctor about HCV as soon as possible. Doctors can test both parents and caregivers, as well as children above a certain age, to confirm whether HCV is present. They can then create a treatment plan.
People should also seek testing for older children and adolescents who engage in behaviors that put them at increased risk for contracting HCV. This includes the use of injection drugs, sharing needles, or getting tattoos and piercings in an unhygienic environment.
Anyone with symptoms that could indicate an acute HCV infection should speak with a doctor right away.
Causes And Risk Factors
THe HCV virus causes hepatitis C.
People contract the virus through blood-to-blood contact with contaminated blood. For transmission to occur, blood containing HCV must enter the body of a person without HCV.
A speck of blood, invisible to the naked eye, can carry hundreds of hepatitis C virus particles. The virus is not easy to kill.
The CDC offers advice on cleaning syringes if it is not possible to use clean and sterile ones. Although bleach might kill the HCV in syringes, it may not have the same effect on other equipment. Boiling, burning, and using alcohol, peroxide, or other common cleaning fluids to wash equipment may reduce the amount of HCV, but it might not stop a person contracting the infection.
It is extremely dangerous to inject bleach, disinfectant, or other cleaning products, so be sure to rinse the syringe thoroughly. Only ever use bleach to clean equipment if new, sterile syringes and equipment are not available.
A person cannot contract the virus from casual contact, breathing, kissing, or sharing food. There is no evidence that mosquito bites can transfer the virus.
The report the following risk factors for developing hepatitis C:
- using or having used injectable drugs, which is currently the most common route in the U.S.
- receiving transfusions or organ transplants before 1992, which is before blood screening became available
- exposure to a needle stick, which is most common in people who work in healthcare
- being born to a mother who has hepatitis C
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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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.
Causes Of Hepatitis C
You can become infected with hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood of an infected person.
Other bodily fluids can also contain the virus, but blood contains the highest level of it. Just a small trace of blood can cause an infection. At room temperature, it’s thought the virus may be able survive outside the body in patches of dried blood on surfaces for up to several weeks.
The main ways you can become infected with the hepatitis C virus are described below.
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How Do My Healthcare Professional And I Decide On Treatment
Your healthcare professional will look at your health history and decide if treatment is right for you. The treatment you receive and the length of treatment may depend on:
- how much virus is in your body
- your genotype of hep C
- whether you have liver damage
- whether or not youve been treated previously
Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis C During Pregnancy
The Centers for Disease Control do not currently recommend that all pregnant women be tested for hepatitis C as a routine part of their prenatal care. However, they do recommend that pregnant women who have any risk factors for hepatitis C should be tested.
Risk factors for hepatitis C include:
- Being a current or former injection drug user
- Having received clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
- Having received blood transfusions or certain types of organ transplants before 1992
- Being a hemodialysis patient
- HIV infection
- Known exposure to hepatitis C, such as a nurse who has been stuck with a potentially infected needle at work.
Certain racial and ethnic groups have also been found to have higher levels of hepatitis C during pregnancy, including American Indian and Alaskan Native women. This has led for calls to broaden screening criteria for hep C during pregnancy.
Some researchers are even pushing for universal screening of all pregnant women. Studies suggest that the cost of such screening is far lower than the cost of future treatment, even with the fact that drugs are currently quite expensive. Because of this, specialist organizations, such as the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases-Infectious Diseases Society of America, have already begun to recommend just such universal screening.
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Antiviral Medication For Hepatitis B
Doctors may recommend antiviral medication for people with chronic hepatitis B, which occurs when the virus stays in your body for more than six months.
Antiviral medication prevents the virus from replicating, or creating copies of itself, and may prevent progressive liver damage. Currently available medications can treat hepatitis B with a low risk of serious side effects.
NYU Langone hepatologists and infectious disease specialists prescribe medication when they have determined that without treatment, the hepatitis B virus is very likely to damage the liver over time. People with chronic hepatitis B may need to take antiviral medication for the rest of their lives to prevent liver damage.
There are many different types of antiviral medications available, and your doctor recommends the right type for you based on your symptoms, your overall health, and the results of diagnostic tests. A doctor may take a wait-and-see approach with a person who has a healthy liver and whose blood tests indicate a low viral load, the number of copies of the hepatitis B virus in your bloodstream.
Someone with HIV infection or AIDS may have a weakened immune system and is therefore more likely to develop liver damage. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends that people with HIV infection who are diagnosed with hepatitis B immediately begin treatment with antiviral medication.
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.
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Hepatitis C Prevention Programmes
Both hepatitis C and HIV are readily transmitted through the sharing of equipment used to inject heroin, crack cocaine and other drugs. Therefore, services use the same approach to prevent transmission of both viruses in people who inject drugs.
should make sufficient quantities of sterile injecting equipment available. Opioid substitution therapy for people with drug dependency reduces the transmission of viral infections because it helps people inject drugs less often. It also helps engage people with healthcare.15
Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe offer integrated hepatitis C, HIV and harm reduction services with promising results, leading to increased access to healthcare among people who use drugs, particularly when programmes involve peer outreach workers.18
Despite the scientific evidence in favour of harm reduction strategies, punitive instead of public health approaches for people who inject drugs are still frequent in many countries. Criminalisation and stigmatisation of people who inject drugs hinders prevention.1920A scale-up of hepatitis C treatment in people who inject drugs would reduce viral loads and make transmission less likely.21
Harm reduction expansion
Treatments For Chronic Hepatitis C
If the infection has lasted more than 6 months, doctors may start treatment with two drugs: peginterferon and ribavirin. Doctors do not treat children with hepatitis C until they reach age 3 because of concerns of possible toxicity and the low chance that a child younger than 3 will have significant liver damage from HCV.
Some children with other medical conditions, such as those with thalassemia, other viral infections, or serious kidney disease, may need to be treated differently. You should tell your doctor if your child has any other medical conditions before starting treatment for hepatitis C.
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How Can I Prevent The Spread Of Hcv
No vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis C. The following can help prevent HCV from spreading to others:
- Cover any open cuts or scratches. If blood from your wound gets on a surface, clean the surface with bleach right away. Put on gloves before you clean. Throw away any items with blood or body fluids on them, as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Do not share personal items. These items include toothbrushes, nail clippers, and razors. Do not share needles.
- Tell household members and sex partners that you have HCV. They should be tested for HCV. Do not have sex, including oral and anal sex, until your healthcare provider tells you it is okay. If you have sex, make sure the male partner wears a latex condom.
- Protect your baby. It is okay to breastfeed your baby unless your nipples are cracked or bleeding. If you are pregnant, ask your healthcare provider for more information on keeping your baby from getting HCV. Medicines used to treat hepatitis C cannot be used during pregnancy.
- Do not donate blood, body organs, semen, or other tissues. Donations are checked for HCV, but it is best not to donate.
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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Sometimes The Infection Goes Away On Its Own
Acute hepatitis is C is a short-term illness that occurs within the first six months after being exposed to the virus. Like the human papillomavirus , early acute hepatitis C can clear on its own without treatment this happens about 25% of the time.
However, it’s more likely that the virus will remain in your body longer than six months, at which point it’s considered to be chronic hepatitis C infection.
“Being younger or a woman tends to be a factor in whether the virus clears on its own, and genetics may play a role,” Reau says. “But we can’t determine with certainty which people are certain to clear the infection and which aren’t.”
Antiviral Medication For Hepatitis C
For people with hepatitis C, the goal of treatment with antiviral medication is to prevent the virus from replicating, or copying itself, and to eliminate the virus from the bloodstream. If the hepatitis C virus has been in the body for more than six months, the infection is considered chronic. Without treatment, most people with acute hepatitis C develop the chronic form of the disease.
Your doctor decides which antiviral medicationor combination of medicationsto prescribe based on the results of a blood test called a genotype test. There are six genotypes, or strains, of the hepatitis C virus, and people with certain genotypes respond more quickly to medical treatment.
For many years, the standard treatment for chronic hepatitis C consisted of the antiviral medications pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Ribavirin is taken by mouth every day, and interferon is an injection that you or a caregiver can administer once a week at home.
In 2013 and 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a group of new medications for the treatment of hepatitis C. These medications, which include sofosbuvir, are very effective and have fewer side effects than older medications, particularly interferon.
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How To Make The Most Of Your Care Plan
There are several types of antiviral medications used to treat hepatitis C. Some treatments take as little as eight weeks, though most take longer to completely eradicate the virus. Your doctor can help you explore all your treatment options and determine the best therapy for you.
Once you start a care plan for hepatitis C, its critical that you see it through all the way. This means acknowledging that there may be side effects from your medications. Find out what to expect from your doctor and pharmacist before treatment begins.
You should know how to respond if you experience symptoms, such as:
- loss of appetite
Hepatitis C Treatment Programmes
An important first step to providing treatment for people with hepatitis C and HIV co-infection is to diagnose infections. HIV services should routinely screen all patients for hepatitis C.
However, guidelines recommending screening are often poorly implemented, especially in low and middle-income countries. Hepatitis C testing may not be systematically provided to groups which have elevated rates of hepatitis C, such as people who inject drugs, prisoners, sex workers, and men who have sex with men.43
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How Do You Treat Hepatitis C
People with acute infection do not always need treatment, because their immune system may clear hepatitis C on its own. If you test positive during the acute stage, your doctor may ask you to come back after a few months to re-test and to see if you need any treatment.
If people develop chronic infection, they will need treatment to help clear the virus. Where available, treatment with drugs called direct-acting antivirals can cure hepatitis in most cases. These are usually taken for 8-12 weeks. Your doctor will also check your liver for any damage.
If youve had hepatitis C in the past, youre not immune to future infections which means you can get it again. You can also still get other types of hepatitis, and having hepatitis C together with another type is more serious.
If youve already had hepatitis C, its advisable to have the vaccination against hepatitis A and B to protect your liver from further damage.
Whether you have symptoms or not, dont have sex until your healthcare professional says you can.
Are Alternative Medicines Available
Some people believe certain forms of alternative medicine help cure hepatitis C.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that there are no effective, research-proven forms of alternative treatment or complementary medicine for hepatitis C.
Silymarin, also known as milk thistle, is an herb commonly suggested to help cure hepatitis C liver disease. But a rigorous did not find any beneficial effects from this supplement.
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The Epidemiology Of Hiv/hepatitis C Co
It is estimated that 6.2% of people living with HIV also show signs of past or present hepatitis C infection. This equates to 2.3 million people living with HIV, over half of whom are .7 Injection drug use accounts for 23% of new hepatitis C infections while 8% of people living with chronic hepatitis C currently inject drugs.8
Among people living with HIV, the prevalence of hepatitis C is highest in people who inject drugs , followed by and pregnant women .9 Studies also show very high rates among living with HIV, although less data has been collected.
As a result, developing models of care that meet the needs of people from these key populations is a vital first step to providing an effective co-infection treatment programme. However, the proportion of people living with HIV and hepatitis C co-infection varies considerably, according to risk group and world region.
In 2016, low- and middle-income countries accounted for about 75% of people living with hepatitis C. China has the largest hepatitis C epidemic , followed by Pakistan , India and Egypt . These four countries account for almost 40% of all people living with hepatitis C.10
Eastern Europe is home to the greatest number of people living with HIV-hepatitis C co-infection, estimated to be around 600,000 people.11 Around 400,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa are also living with HIV/hepatitis C co-infection.12
What Does It Mean To Have A Successful Treatment What Is A Sustained Virologic Response
In an untreated state, the hepatitis C virus infects the cells of the liver and then continuously lives there, making copies of itself that circulate in the bloodstream. Antiviral medications can destroy the ability of the virus to reproduce, so the amount of virus in the bloodstream then decreases. The amount of virus in the blood is measured by aviral load.
Treatment is successful when the viral load drops toundetectablelevels, which means the virus cannot be detected in the bloodstream at all. The viral load becomes undetectable during treatment and remains undetected after treatment has ended. If there is still no detectable virus in the blood 12 weeks after the end of the treatment, the treatment was successful. This is called a Sustained Virologic Response .
A patient who has achieved an SVR is considered to be cured of the hepatitis C virus.
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