Favorite Hep C Financial Resources
This nonprofit devotes its energies to help people afford healthcare and medication. It offers a free drug discount card that extends a discount of up to 80 percent at more than 65,000 pharmacies nationwide. Anyone can use the card regardless of income level or insurance status.
RxAssist guides people to free or low-cost medicine programs. Visitors to the website can type a drug’s name into the search tool to find patient assistance programs that can help with costs. The group also gives a wealth of information on various drug discount cards.
Those who qualify can get awards of up to $15,000 a year to pay for hep C treatment. Eligibility requirements include an income below 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. In addition, the foundation presents links to other financial resources and pharmaceutical assistance programs.
What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C is with antiviral medicines. They can cure the disease in most cases.
If you have acute hepatitis C, your health care provider may wait to see if your infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
If your hepatitis C causes cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Treatments for health problems related to cirrhosis include medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If your hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
Favorite Hep C Alternative Medicine Resource
Although hep C can be successfully treated with modern medicine, many people turn to dietary supplements with the goal of curing their illness. The most commonly used is silymarin . Although the NCCIH says that no supplement is effective for hep C, the center provides the latest scientific data on a range of products, including probiotics, zinc, licorice root, and colloidal silver.
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Frequency And Rates Of Serious Outcomes
Infected persons whose acute HCV infection does not resolve are at risk for progressive liver disease, characterized by continuing hepatocellular inflammation and an increase in fibrosis from mild to advanced , followed by cirrhosis, first compensated then decompensated, and, finally, HCC. These developments occur over periods of two to four decades, however, so that investigators have used differing strategies to evaluate the frequency and rate of progression of the chronic liver disease .
Strategies used to establish the natural history of hepatitis C .
One strategy is to perform a prospective study beginning with persons who develop acute hepatitis C under observation. The advantages of this approach are that disease onset is precisely established , and that all persons infected, whether or not they have symptoms, can be identified. This approach also permits recognition of spontaneous resolution. Furthermore, matched uninfected transfusion recipients can be selected as controls for a paired follow-up. The disadvantages are that the onset of acute hepatitis C is usually silent and therefore difficult to identify unless there is a recognized point-source outbreak, and that liver disease progression is exceedingly slow, so that decades of follow-up are required to establish a full outcome moreover, antiviral treatment is likely to be instituted in the interim that will preclude a true natural history study.
But Even If You’ve Been Cured It Can Have Lifelong Health Implications
“Hepatitis C is a lot more than just a liver disease,” Reau says. “It has been associated with many medical conditions, such as an increased risk of developing diabetes, kidney disease and cancer.”
While curing hepatitis C significantly reduces the risk of serious complications, like liver failure, liver cancer and the need for transplantation, it doesn’t completely eliminate the health risks associated with the disease.
“Hep C is linked to scarring of the liver or cirrhosis and the more scar tissue that develops, the greater the likelihood of complications,” Reau says. “If there is a lot of scarring, you will need lifelong monitoring.”
Reau also recommends leading a healthy lifestyle to help prevent re-infection and further liver damage: Limit alcohol consumption, control your weight, avoid high-risk activities and manage diabetes if you have it.
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Reactive Or Positive Hepatitis C Antibody Test
- A reactive or positive antibody test means that Hepatitis C antibodies were found in the blood and a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time.
- Once people have been infected, they will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true even if they have cleared the Hepatitis C virus.
- A reactive antibody test does not necessarily mean that you have Hepatitis C. A person will need an additional, follow-up test.
Persons for Whom HCV Testing Is Recommended
- Adults born from 1945 through 1965 should be tested once
- Those who:
- Ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
- Have certain medical conditions, including persons:
- who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
- who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
- with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels
- who have HIV infection
Blood And Vessel Problems
People with hepatitis C often get a condition called cryoglobulinemia. This happens when certain proteins in your blood stick together in cold weather. They can build up in vessels and block blood flow, which causes swelling and damage. The condition can affect your skin, organs, nerves, and joints.
Hepatitis C also can cause problems with blood itself. You may not make enough white blood cells, which fight infections, or platelets, which help your blood clot.
The infection can also make you bruise easily or get red or purple spots under your skin. Those are signs of a bleeding disorder called immune thrombocytopenic purpura.
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How Do I Know If I Have Hepatitis C Virus
Diagnosis of hepatitis C virus requires a blood test your doctor can order. Other blood tests can determine which subtype of HCV you have to better target your drug treatment, if needed. Your doctor will also want to know your viral load . In some patients, a liver biopsy is required to determine the level of damage.
Symptoms of chronic HCV may not appear for 2 to 3 decades after infection, so the disease may develop silently in your body for many years. This is the reason you should be tested for HCV infection, to start treatment if needed and to help protect your liver from damage.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends anyone 18 years or older be tested for hepatitis C virus at least once in their lifetime. Women should be tested for hepatitis C testing during each pregnancy. Some high risk groups may need more frequent testing, such as people who share drug preparation equipment and those on hemodialysis.
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.
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Are There Supplements That Are Good For My Liver
If a person eats a balanced diet, they will normally get enough vitamins and minerals. People with liver disease should avoid taking large amounts of supplements or “mega-vitamins.” This is because the liver has to do extra work to process them. Your provider may put you on a general multivitamin without iron.
When Should You See A Doctor Or Other Healthcare Professional
Since so many people dont experience any symptoms, healthcare professionals recommend getting screened for hepatitis C at least once in your adult life. They may recommend more frequent screenings if you have a higher risk of contracting the virus.
Hepatitis C doesnt always become severe, but the chronic form can increase your risk for liver damage, liver cancer, and liver failure.
If you have any symptoms that suggest hepatitis C, especially if theres a chance youve been exposed, connect with a doctor or another healthcare professional as soon as possible to discuss your options for testing and treatment.
With a prompt diagnosis, you can get treatment earlier, which may help prevent damage to your liver.
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How Is Hepatitis C Infection Prevented
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. To reduce your risk of getting hepatitis C:
- Injection drug use is the most common way people get hepatitis C. Avoid injecting drugs to reduce your risk. If you do inject drugs, use sterile injection equipment. Avoid reusing or sharing.
- Avoid sharing personal care items that might have blood on them
- If you are a health care or public safety worker, follow universal blood/body fluid precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps
- Consider the risks if you are thinking about tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture are the instruments properly sterilized?
- If youre having sex with more than one partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including hepatitis C.
Staying Healthy With Hepatitis
Not everyone needs treatment right away, but its important to be monitored regularly by an experienced doctor and discuss treatment options of the best way to keep you healthy.
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Eat a healthy & balanced diet. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits try to stay away from too much salt, sugar and fat.
- Exercise regularly. Walking is one of the best exercises, and it helps to make you feel less tired.
- Check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications.
- Do not share razors, nail clippers, needles or other items that come in contact with blood with other people.
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How Can I Protect Myself From Hepatitis C Infection
If you dont have hepatitis C, you can help protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by
- not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
- wearing gloves if you have to touch another persons blood or open sores
- making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools and unopened ink
- not sharing personal items such toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
Hepatitis C can spread from person to person during sex, but the chances are low. People who have multiple sex partners, have HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, or who engage in rough or anal sex have a higher chance of getting hepatitis C. Talk with your doctor about your risk of getting hepatitis C through sex and about safe sex practices, such as using a latex or polyurethane condom to help prevent the spread of hepatitis C.
If you had hepatitis C in the past and your body fought off the infection or medicines cured the infection, you can get hepatitis C again. Follow the steps above, and talk with your doctor about how to protect yourself from another hepatitis C infection.
If you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage.
Other Risks Can Include:
- Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another persons blood, such as razors, toothbrushes or nail clippers
- Inoculation practices involving multiple use needles or immunization air guns
- Exposure of broken skin to HCV infected blood
- HIV infected persons
People with current or past risk behaviors should consider HCV testing and consult with a physician. HCV testing is currently not available at most public health clinics in Missouri. For information about HCV testing that is available, call the HCV Program Coordinator at 573-751-6439.
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The Discovery Of The Hepatitis C Virus
The non-A, non-B hepatitis virus was identified in 1989 by scientists at a California biotechnology company called Chiron who were collaborating with investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . The research confirmed that this was a new virusnow officially called the hepatitis C virus, or HCV. This was a landmark advance in medicine that allowed for development of tests to detect HCV, which were rapidly applied to screen blood donations. Over the next few years, as the testing improved, HCV was effectively eliminated from the blood transfusion supply. The identification of HCV also led to further studies, undertaken by NIAID- and NIDDK-funded researchers and others, to determine its molecular structure. This was crucial for the design of drugs that would specifically interact with components of the virus and inhibit its replication. The identification of the virus also allowed for a more accurate diagnosis and a better sense of its prevalence in fact, it was eventually determined that HCV was the most common cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer in the Western world.
Ive Never Used Iv Drugs Or Been Stuck With A Dirty Needle How Did I Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is usually spread through direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease. It can also be transmitted by needles used for tattooing or body piercing. In rare cases, hepatitis C can be passed from a mother to her unborn baby. This virus can be transmitted through sex and sharing razors or toothbrushes. These occurrences are also rare. Many times, the cause of hepatitis C is never found.
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Items Requiring Consideration For Evaluating The Natural History
As knowledge of hepatitis C began to grow, it became clear that in order to better understand the process of evolution of hepatitis C, consideration must be directed at the very least towards the following four questions:
What is the rate of spontaneous resolution of acute hepatitis C that brings the disease to an end, thus confining progression only to those in whom the virus persists?
Among those who do not spontaneously recover, what outcomes can be anticipated, with what frequency and over what duration of time?
What are the variables and risk factors that help predict that progression of chronic hepatitis is likely to occur?
What is the pathogenesis of disease persistence and progression?
How Can Hepatitis C Affect My Child In The Long Term
Children with hepatitis C can lead completely normal lives, attend school and play sports without any special arrangements.
If left untreated or if treatment fails, chronic hepatitis C can last for decades. During that time, it can progressively damage the liver and lead to such complications as cirrhosis and liver cancer. When they become older, children with hepatitis C should avoid drinking alcohol, as it can make the disease progress more quickly.
If the liver begins to fail because of the hepatitis and its complications, your child may need a liver transplant. While hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for an adult to receive a liver transplant, it is not a common reason among children.
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is transmitted when the blood of an infected person enters the body of someone who isn’t infected.
Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began, people could contract the virus through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
Today, the most common ways that transmission occurs are:
- Through the sharing of needles and syringes for intravenous drug use
- Through accidental needle injuries in healthcare settings
- During birth, if the mother has hepatitis C
Using personal care items including razors and toothbrushes that have come in contact with blood infected with HCV can put you at risk of hepatitis C.
“Hepatitis C can be easily transmitted with any blood-to-blood contact ,” Dr. Malvestutto says. “There have been cases of transmission through sharing of razors or sharing ‘straws’ to inhale drugs nasally.”
Though less common, it’s also possible to acquire a hepatitis C infection by having unprotected sex with someone who has the virus.
Given that hepatitis C is spread through blood contact, an infected mother cannot give her baby hepatitis C through breastfeeding and you cannot contract the virus through saliva .
Some factors that increase your risk of hepatitis C:
Hepatitis C has some surprising ways of showing up. For example, your birth date alone may put you at a higher risk. Healthcare professionals and members of the military are also at greater risk.
If I Have Hepatitis C Infection Does This Mean I Am Going To Have Other Health Problems
Hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Other conditions have also been linked to hepatitis C and are known as extra-hepatic manifestations of hepatitis C. They include diabetes mellitus, arthritis, hypothyroid, and aplastic anemia among other conditions. Talk to your provider for more information.
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