What Is Hepatitis C
The term hepatitis means an inflammation of the liver. The inflammation may damage the liver, which is the largest internal organ in the body. The liver filters the blood and breaks down harmful substances.
Infection with a virus is the most common cause of hepatitis. If a person contracts HCV, the disease is called hepatitis C, or hep C for short.
Hepatitis A and hepatitis B are other types of hepatitis that result from viral infection. Hepatitis A, B, and C differ in the way they spread, their effect on the liver, and their method of treatment, according to the
HCV causes hepatitis C. A person may contract HCV by coming into contact with the blood of someone else who has the condition. Even microscopic amounts of blood may be enough to spread the virus.
In the United States, the way for someone to contract hepatitis C is by sharing drug-injection equipment, such as needles or syringes.
According to the , other ways a person may contract hepatitis C include:
- coming into contact with the open sores or blood of a person with the condition
- using the toothbrush, nail clippers, or razor of a person with the condition
- getting a tattoo or piercing with non-sterile instruments or inks
- getting an accidental stick with a needle from someone with hepatitis C
About 6% of babies born to people with hepatitis C will develop hepatitis C.
Sometimes an individual will experience symptoms 13 months after contracting HCV, according to
How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted: Options The First Symptoms Of The Disease
Many people know about such a dangerous disease as hepatitis B, since, by law, all newborns are vaccinated against it in the maternity hospital. But this is not the only form of the disease. For its other form, hepatitis C, there is no vaccine yet. Therefore, everyone needs to know how hepatitis C is transmitted to protect themselves from accidental infection.
The Types Of Viral Hepatitis
There are five main types of viral hepatitis known as hepatitis A , hepatitis B , hepatitis C , hepatitis D , and hepatitis E . That said, there have been cases of acute hepatitis that could not be attributed to one of these five types of hepatitis viruses, alcohol, drugs, or autoimmune disease, which lead researchers to try to find another cause.
Though the etiology of these viruses have not yet been fully established, researchers have identified three other types of viral hepatitis , which they have named hepatitis F , hepatitis G , and transfusions transmitted virus . As relatively new diseases and viral discoveries, information about them and how they work is relatively scarce. We do know, however, that cases of TTV have only been associated with hepatitis in people who have had a blood transfusion.
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How Are Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C Spread From Person To Person
Like HIV, the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses spread:
- From mother to child: Pregnant women can pass these infections to their infants. HIV-HCV coinfection increases the risk of passing on hepatitis C to the baby.
- Sexually: Both viruses can also be transmitted sexually, but HBV is much more likely than HCV to be transmitted sexually. Sexual transmission of HCV is most likely to happen among gay and bisexual men who are living with HIV.
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Diagnosis And Treatment Of Hcv Infection
Hepatitis C is rarely diagnosed at the time of infection, since few individuals are symptomatic. Asymptomatic cases may be detected, however, through recommended screening in high-risk populations, such as intravenous drug users and recipients of blood transfusions or organ transplants in which the tissues were not initially tested for HCV. Diagnostic testing and screening for hepatitis C centres on the detection of circulating antibodies and RNA specific to HCV. HCV RNA is detectable within 1 to 3 weeks of infection, and the antibodies are usually detectable within 8 to 12 weeks.
Treatment of hepatitis C is focused on the elimination of viral infection, improvement of liver function, and the prevention of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Liver function may be improved with the use of interferon, which reduces HCV replication and stimulates the immune system to fight HCV infection. Interferon is often given in combination with ribavirin, an antiviral drug that mimics nucleosides and thereby interferes with viral reproduction. Ribavirin may also be used in combination with agents known as sofosbuvir and velpatasvir, which inhibit key molecules involved in HCV RNA replication. Treatment of end-stage or advanced liver disease and cirrhosis caused by HCV infection is also possible with liver transplantation, though recurrence of detectable HCV infection is almost universal after transplantation.
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How Can You Prevent Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C
Hepatitis B: Vaccination is the best way to prevent all of the ways that hepatitis B is transmitted. People with HIV who do not have active HBV infection should be vaccinated against it. In addition to the 3-dose series of hepatitis B vaccine given over 6 months, as of 2017, there is a 2-dose series given over 1 month.
Hepatitis C: No vaccine exists for HCV and no effective pre- or postexposure prophylaxis is available. The best way to prevent hepatitis C infection is to never inject drugs or to stop injecting drugs by getting into and staying in drug treatment. If you continue injecting drugs, always use new, sterile needles or syringes, and never reuse or share needles or syringes, water, or other drug preparation equipment.
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Hepatitis C : Can It Be Sexually Transmitted
DOCTOR’S VIEWS ARCHIVE
Topic: Hepatitis C, June 2000
Dr. Edward Block:Blood transfusion used to be a major risk factor. Fortunately, as a result of the increased stringency requirements, blood transfusions are no longer a major risk factor in this country. So, our viewers should know that if they should ever require a blood transfusion, they should feel fairly secure because the risk for hepatitis C exposure from blood transfusion is very small.
At this time, the principal risk for acquiring hepatitis C appears to be the use of injection drugs, primarily IV drug abuse. IV drug users comprise upwards of 40% of those who are diagnosed with new cases of hepatitis C. Other high-risk activities include other drug use . People with multiple sex partners are also considered to be at high risk .
Dr. Lee:As opposed to, let’s say, sexual transmission of Hepatitis B.
Dr. Edward Block: Yes, as opposed to hepatitis B, the risk of sexual transmission of hepatitis C is small.
There is probably some small risk of sexual transmission here and certainly it would be prudent to tell our viewers that if they are known to be hepatitis C positive and are single that they should take appropriate precautions, such as the use of condoms.
People receiving tattoos are also felt to be at risk, particularly if needles have been reused.
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Gay Men Chemsex And Hep C
Group sex and chemsex parties provide the perfect storm for hepatitis C transmission.
If youre taking drugs and having sex for longer your inhibitions are likely to be lowered and the delicate skin lining the anus can be damaged, causing bleeding. Hep C is very infectious and is easily passed on through group sex it can even be passed from one person to another on fingers.
The virus spreads through anal sex and fisting when condoms and gloves are not used. Its also passed on during group sex, on objects such as sex toys, fingers, enema equipment, condoms, latex gloves or in contaminated lubricant.
The iBase guide Safer HCV sex for gay men is a useful reminder of what to avoid and what steps to take to protect yourself.
The Hepatitis C Trust has some useful information about transmission. They also provide an advocacy service for men who have sex with men who have been re-infected with hepatitis C after previously being successfully treated.
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 they’re 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.
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Sharing Toothbrushes Scissors And Razors
Theres 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 sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.
How Its Passed On
The hepatitis C virus is found in blood and is passed on when infected blood gets into another persons bloodstream. Its seen as unlikely that it can be passed on in semen.
Most people get the virus from sharing drug injecting equipment such as needles, syringes, water cups, tourniquets, spoons, filters and swabs. Sharing things like straws and banknotes that are used for snorting drugs might pass the virus on, as can sharing pipes.
In the UK piercing and tattooing should be safe but unsterilised equipment abroad can spread the virus.
An infected person risks infecting others if they share anything that might have blood on it like a toothbrush or razor. A pregnant woman with the virus can give it to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth.
Blood transfusions in the UK are safe as blood is screened.
You can also potentially get it from medical or dental treatment abroad in countries where hepatitis C is common and infection control is inadequate.
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How Common Is Hepatitis C
There are approximately 30,000 new cases of acute hepatitis C every year in the United States as estimated by the CDC. In 2015, it was estimated that approximately 3.5 million Americans were infected with hepatitis C.
On a global scale, the prevalence of hepatitis C is greatest in Central and East Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. In 2016, it was estimated that 177 million people worldwide had antibodies to hepatitis C virus.
- exposure to other people who do or might have hepatitis C.
Blood Transfusion/receipt Of Blood Products
Early case-control studies of patients with newly acquired, symptomatic non-A, non-B hepatitis found a significant association between disease acquisition and a history six months prior to illness of blood transfusions, injection drug use, health care employment with frequent exposure to blood, personal contact with others who had hepatitis, multiple sexual partners or low socioeconomic status. Today, HCV is rarely transmitted by blood transfusion or transplantation of organs due to thorough screening of the blood supply for the presence of the virus and inactivation procedures that destroy bloodborne viruses. In the last several years, blood banks have instituted techniques that utilize nucleic acid amplification of the hepatitis C virus, which will detect the presence of virus even in newly-infected patients who are still hepatitis C antibody-negative. These techniques are estimated to have prevented 56 transfusion-associated HCV infections per year in the U.S. since 1999, and have lowered the current risk of acquiring HCV via transfused blood products to 1 in 2 million.
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How Can I Take Care Of Myself
- See your healthcare provider regularly.
- Follow your providers instructions for taking medicine for your symptoms. You need to avoid taking medicines that can damage the liver more . Ask your provider which medicines you can safely take for your symptoms, such as itching and nausea.
- Follow your providers advice for how much rest you need and when you can go back to your normal activities, including work or school. As your symptoms get better, you may slowly start being more active. It is best to avoid too much physical exertion until your provider says its OK.
- Eat small, high-protein, high-calorie meals, even when you feel nauseated. Sipping soft drinks or juices, and sucking on hard candy may help you feel less nauseated.
- Dont drink alcohol unless your healthcare provider says it is safe.
- Contact your healthcare provider if: Your appetite keeps getting worse.
- You are getting more and more tired.
- You have vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain.
- Your skin gets yellowish.
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Can Hepatitis C Be Spread During Vaginal Sex
Its rare for the hepatitis C virus to be transmitted through vaginal intercourse. Unless the vaginal walls arent lubricated or intercourse is very rough and leads to tears in the vaginal wall, theres no opportunity for blood to be exchanged. The risk for transmission with vaginal intercourse is about 1 in 190,000, according to research published in the March 2013 issue of the journal Hepatology.
Research published in the Journal of Coagulation Disorders in March 2014 reinforces these findings, emphasizing that transmission of the hepatitis C virus by sex in monogamous heterosexual couples is rare. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that couples in monogamous heterosexual relationships do not need to use condoms routinely, even if one partner has hepatitis C. Concerned couples, however, can discuss using a condom to lower the already very low risk of spreading the virus, says Talal.
Just how safe sex is when a partner has hepatitis C hinges on some other factors as well. For example, its important to use a new condom with each sexual act that has the potential to expose the uninfected partner to the infected persons blood, even if youre in a committed relationship, says the CDC. Some of these situations include sex when you or your partner:
- Has an open cut or sore
- Has another sexually transmitted infection , especially one that causes sores or lesions
- Is having her menstrual period
Safe Sex And Sexually Transmitted Diseases
All sexually active people should consider safe sex because of the risk of contracting a sexually transmissible infection. STIs include conditions such as genital herpes, HIV, hepatitis B, gonorrhoea, syphilis, chlamydia, crabs and genital warts.
If you have any condition that involves scratching, sores or blisters the possibility of blood-to-blood contact and transmission of STIs is increased.
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.
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How Long Do People With Hepatitis C Live
Timely treatment, as long as the liver is not yet severely destroyed, is capable of a lot. A cured patient can live a full life, as long as the doctors recommendations are followed.
In the absence of treatment, life expectancy and prognosis for the course of the disease are very different. Some can live with hepatitis C for 15-25 years without particularly suffering from it, while others develop serious complications after 4-5 years that end in death. The danger to life is not so much the hepatitis itself as its complications: cirrhosis of the liver, hepatosis and cancer.
Not long ago, hepatitis C was considered a slowly progressive but incurable disease. A new generation of antiviral drugs can effectively fight the virus. Therefore, if an infection is detected, treatment should be started immediately.
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Which Hepatitis Is An Std
Hepatitis A, B, and C can be sexually transmitted.
- Hepatitis A: Although the fecal-oral route is common for hepatitis A, the virus can also be transmitted from any sexual activity. The use of condoms does not effectively prevent the spread of hepatitis A.
- Hepatitis B: Sexual contact is the most common mode of Hepatitis B transmission in the United States. Compared to HIV, a hepatitis B infection is 50 to 100 times more likely to be transmitted sexually. The transmission risk is higher among unvaccinated people with risk behaviors like having multiple sex partners and men having sex with men .
- Hepatitis C: The Hepatitis C virus may be transmitted via sexual contact. However, studies have shown that such transmission is very rare. A higher rate of sexual transmission of the hepatitis C infection is seen in MSM, especially those who practice unprotected anal intercourse and have an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus .
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