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How Do You Get Viral Hepatitis C

Who Should Get Tested For Hepatitis C

How Do You Get Hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is transmitted mostly when the blood of an infected person gets into an uninfected person’s body, such as from sharing needles for intravenous drug use . Less commonly, a person can also get hepatitis C virus through sexual contact with someone who is infected.

You should get tested for hepatitis C if you:

  • Are age 18 or older
  • Currently use intravenous drugs or have in the past
  • Received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992, when routine blood screenings became available
  • Received a clotting factor concentrate made before 1987
  • Are a hemodialysis patient or ever spent many years on dialysis for kidney failure
  • Were born to an HCV-positive mother
  • Had tattoos or piercings done at an unlicensed or unregulated establishment
  • Are a healthcare worker who has ever been injured by a needle at work

Can I Get Reinfected With Hepatitis C

If you become infected with hepatitis C infection and then clear the virus , yes, it is possible for you to become infected again.

The chance of another infection with hepatitis C is much, much less than the chance of a first-time infection, but it is not impossible. It has happened in people who continue to use injection drugs, and some studies suggest that it happens even more often in people who are also HIV positive.

In other words, having had hepatitis C once does not make you “immune” to getting hepatitis C again.

The best way to avoid reinfection is to reduce risky behaviors that can result in exposure to the hepatitis C virus: Do not use injection drugs, do not share needles for any reason, avoid blood-to-blood exposures with others, and use condoms if you are sexually active with a new partner or with a partner who has used injection drugs.

The research in this area is ongoing, and we will continue to learn more about this very important topic. But for now, preventing re-exposure to the hepatitis C virus is the only sure way of avoiding infection and reinfection with hepatitis C.

Can Hepatitis C Be Prevented Or Avoided

The only way to prevent hepatitis C is to avoid coming in contact with an infected persons blood. Always have protected sex . Dont do intravenous drugs. Dont share personal care items with a person who has hepatitis C. If youre a health care worker, follow your workplaces standard safety practices.

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How Is Chronic Viral Hepatitis Treated

If you have chronic viral hepatitis, your treatment depends on the type of hepatitis you have:

  • Hepatitis B. You will probably meet with your doctor regularly, every six to 12 months, to watch for signs of liver disease and liver cancer. If you plan to become pregnant in the future, talk to your doctor first. You may need antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis B, but many people do not need medicine. The Food and Drug Administration has a list of approved medicines to treat hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis C. If you have hepatitis C, talk with your doctor about whether you need medicine. Recently approved antiviral medicines treat and may cure hepatitis C in adults. The FDA has a list of approved medicines to treat hepatitis C. If you have health insurance, ask about your copay or coinsurance and which medicines are covered under your plan.

How Do You Get It

Hepatitis C

HAV can be present in the stool and blood of someone with the virus. Its mainly transmitted through the fecal-oral route, which involves ingesting virus thats present in the stool of someone with hepatitis A.

There are several ways you can get hepatitis A:

  • having close person-to-person contact with someone who has hepatitis A, such as:
  • taking care of someone whos currently sick
  • having sex with someone who has the virus
  • consuming contaminated food or drink, including:
  • eating food thats been prepared by someone with hepatitis A who didnt wash their hands after using the bathroom
  • drinking untreated, infected water
  • eating food thats been washed or prepared using untreated water
  • eating undercooked shellfish that was sourced from sewage-contaminated water
  • having contact with contaminated objects, such as toilets and diaper changing areas and then not washing your hands
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    How Can I Protect Myself And Others

    • Never share injecting drug equipment or things that may have blood on them such as toothbrushes and razors. Also avoid sharing straws or rolled up banknotes if snorting drugs with others.
    • Use condoms for anal and vaginal sex and latex gloves for fisting.
    • During group sex, cover anything which goes from one partner to another with a fresh condom or fresh latex glove for each new person it enters. Clean objects with warm water and anti-bacterial soap before using on a new partner.
    • Dont share enema equipment or pots of lubricant.

    If you have hepatitis C you may want to tell a partner and explain that youre infectious. They can then decide if theyre happy to take any risks and whether they want to take precautions. That way they cannot accuse you of infecting them without them knowing that the risk was there.

    Can I Have Sex With My Partner

    Yes. If you only have one sexual partner, the odds youll give hepatitis C to that person are very low. The CDC says monogamous couples dont need to routinely use condoms. Your risk of passing hepatitis C goes up if you have multiple sex partners, have an STD, or are infected with HIV. Hep C is also more likely to spread if you and your partner have rough sex.

    Read Also: How Serious Is Hepatitis A

    Also Check: What Is Hepatitis C And How Do You Catch It

    Do I Have To Have Drug Treatment

    The choice is up to you and your doctor. The decision to use drug therapy can be hard to make because of the potential side effects. Your doctor will closely monitor your symptoms and the amount of the virus in your body. He or she will also consider your overall health. This includes looking at blood test results. All are important factors to consider before you and your doctor start drug treatment for your hepatitis C.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Viral Hepatitis

    Hepatitis C Virus

    The symptoms of viral hepatitis are similar for all types of hepatitis.9 They include:

    • Low-grade fever
    • Fatigue
    • Joint pain
    • Jaundice , which is when the skin and whites of the eyes turn yellow

    People who are newly infected are most likely to have one or more of these symptoms, but some people with viral hepatitis do not have any symptoms. New hepatitis A infections usually cause symptoms, but as many as half the people with new hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections do not have symptoms.

    Certain blood tests can show if you have hepatitis, even if you do not have symptoms. People with chronic hepatitis B or C often develop symptoms when their liver becomes damaged.

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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.

    Medications For Hepatitis C

    Many different medications can treat hepatitis C. Treatments most often include antivirals, with Riboviria sometimes prescribed if previous treatments were ineffective.

    Medications called direct-acting antivirals work to fully remove the hepatitis C virus from your body while helping prevent liver damage at the same time.

    A few brand names of these medications include:

    • Zepatier

    6 different genotypes , or strains, of hepatitis C.

    Once your doctor or other healthcare professional knows your genotype, theyll have a better idea of which medication will work best for you. Some strains have developed a resistance to some medications, so your genotype can affect your treatment options.

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    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.

  • Avoid taking too much vitamin A.
  • Do not take protein or amino acid supplements.
  • Avoid iron supplements unless your doctor prescribes them. Excess iron can build up in the liver and speed up damage.
  • If you have cirrhosis and your liver is not working, you may have to avoid substances such as steroids, acetaminophen, birth control pills, cortisone, barbiturates, and many other drugs.
  • Why Getting Tested Is Important

    Free hepatitis C tests offered Thursday in Des Moines

    A blood test is one of the only ways to confirm a diagnosis of hepatitis C. Additionally, hepatitis C often has no visible symptoms for many years.

    Because of this, its important to be tested if you believe youve been exposed to the virus. Getting a timely diagnosis can help ensure you receive treatment before permanent liver damage occurs.

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    Do You Need Vaccinations Before Traveling Abroad

    The CDC divides travel vaccinations into three categories: 1) routine, 2) recommended, and 3) required. The only vaccine classified as “required” by International Health Regulations is the yellow fever vaccination for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America.

    “Routine” vaccinations are those that are normally administered, usually during childhood, in the United States. These include immunizations against:

    • tetanus

    Hiv And Hepatitis C Coinfection

    HCV infection is common among people with HIV who also inject drugs. Nearly 75% of people living with HIV who report a history of injection drug use are co-infected with HCV. All people who are diagnosed with HIV are recommended to be tested for HCV at least once. People living with HIV are at greater risk for complications and death from HCV infection. Fortunately, direct acting antivirals that are used to treat HCV work equally well in people with and without HIV infection. For more information about HIV and HCV coinfection, visit the HIV.govs pages about hepatitis C and HIV coinfection.

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    How Common Is Hepatitis C

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention think that 2.4 million Americans are infected with HCV. It is the most common infection carried by blood in the United States. Veterans have higher rates of hepatitis C than the rest of the country so it is especially important to discuss hepatitis C testing with your provider if you are a Veteran. But, Veterans are not the only ones with high rates of hepatitis C. Baby boomers have higher rates of hepatitis C than people in other age groups in the country as well. Often, people infected with hepatitis C are not aware of their infection because they have no symptoms and they do not feel ill so getting tested if you are at higher risk is important step.

    Can Hepatitis Be Treated

    Hepatitis C: What Baby Boomers Need to Know

    There are no treatments to cure hepatitis A, aside from carefully monitoring liver function. If you know you have hepatitis A early enough, you might be able to stop the infection if you get a dose of the hepatitis A vaccine or something called hepatitis A immune globulin.

    Hepatitis B, when chronic, can often be treated successfully. The most commonly used drugs to treat chronic hepatitis B are:

    • Entecavir .

    For hepatitis C, the following drugs are used:

    • Simeprevir .
    • Sofosbuvir sofusbuvir/velpatasvir sofusbuvir/velpatasvir/voxilaprevir ledipasvir/sofosbuvir .
    • Ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir/dasabuvir .
    • Elbasivir/grazoprevir .
    • Glecaprevir/pibrentasvir .

    These new drugs are sometimes given with older drugs like ribavirin and peginterferon alfa-2a and peginterferon-2b. You might have to take these medicines for some time, even as long as six months.

    If you have chronic hepatitis D, your doctor may prescribe drugs with interferons and might also add medicines for hepatitis B. Hepatitis E treatments include peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin.

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    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 chronic or lifelong infection. 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.

    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.17

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    Is Hepatitis A Contagious Is It Curable

    According to the CDC, it’s very contagious, found in the blood or stool of people who are infected, and it spreads either through close contact or through contaminated foods or drinks. US outbreaks in the past have included contaminated frozen strawberries and scallops. Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating contaminated food, according to the FDA.

    Most people with hepatitis A don’t have a prolonged illness, but symptoms can last up to two months and include headache, fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice. Jaundice causes the skin or eyes to take on a yellow color, and it can also cause dark urine or light-colored stool.

    Unlike other types of hepatitis , hepatitis A doesn’t typically cause chronic liver damage or chronic illness, but it can cause serious disease in some, including older adults and people with chronic liver diseases.

    A CDC investigation into cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in young children is ongoing and isn’t currently linked to the investigation of organic strawberries or any other foods.

    The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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    Building Healthy Sexual Relationships

    Hepatitis B: Are You At Risk? Infographic â National Foundation for ...

    Rule number one for a healthy sexual relationship: Be open and honest with your partners. I believe in transparency, says Talal. This conversation can be difficult, but its important to have. Part of discussing your status is talking about what exposure you may have had to hepatitis C, even in the distant past.

    Its a good opportunity for you both to share your sexual history, as well as your experiences with other ways hepatitis C can be transmitted, such as using injection drugs or being exposed to items that may have blood on them, including needles, razors, and toothbrushes.

    Sherman explains that even if you consistently use condoms during sex, other activities, such as sharing needles to inject drugs or sharing straws to snort them, increase your risk of spreading hepatitis C. People do not want to hear about this, he says. Its difficult to get the word out about risk.

    If you and your partner find that hepatitis C is disrupting your relationship or your sex life, you might also consider working with a marriage and family therapist or a sex therapist.

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