How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed
Many people find out by chance that they have the virus. They find out when their blood is tested before a blood donation or as part of a checkup when they advise their doctor of symptoms that may be related to hepatitis C. Some people are screened for hepatitis C because they are at higher risk of becoming infected. Often people with hepatitis C have high levels of liver enzymes in their blood.
If your doctor thinks you may have hepatitis C, he or she will talk to you about having a blood test. If the test shows hepatitis C antibodies, then you have had hepatitis C at some point. A second test can tell if you still have hepatitis C.
When blood tests show that you have hepatitis C, you may need a liver biopsy to see how well your liver is working. During a liver biopsy, a doctor will insert a needle between your ribs to collect a small sample of liver tissue to look at under a microscope. You may also have imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound, to make sure that you don’t have liver cancer.
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.
Common Examples Of How Hepatitis A Is Spread
The hepatitis A virus usually spreads from person to person contact or from contaminated food or water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here are common examples:
- When an infected person touches objects or food after using the toilet without proper handwashing
- When changing the diaper of someone infected but not washing hands afterward
- During some sexual practices, such as oral-anal contact
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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.
Pregnancy And Hepatitis C
Should pregnant women be tested for HCV antibodies?
Yes. All pregnant women should be screened for anti-HCV during each pregnancy, except in settings where the prevalence of HCV infection is < 0.1% . Pregnant women with known risk factors should be tested during each pregnancy, regardless of setting prevalence. Any pregnant women testing positive for anti-HCV should receive a PCR test for HCV RNA to determine current infection status.
Can a mother with hepatitis C infect her infant during birth?
The overall risk of an infected mother transmitting HCV to her infant is approximately 4%8% per pregnancy . Transmission occurs during pregnancy or childbirth, and no prophylaxis is available to protect the newborn from infection. The risk is significantly higher if the mother has a high HCV viral load, or is coinfected with HIV with which the rate of transmission ranges from 8%15% . Most infants infected with HCV at birth have no symptoms.
Should a woman with hepatitis C be advised against breastfeeding?
When should children born to HCV-infected mothers be tested to see if they were infected at birth?
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Hepatitis C Symptoms & Treatment
Hepatitis C is found in infected blood. It is also rarely found in semen and vaginal fluids.
Hepatitis C is mainly passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or sharing other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.
You can prevent hepatitis C by never sharing needles and syringes, practising safer sex, and avoiding unlicensed tattoo parlours and acupuncturists.
Hepatitis C will often not have any noticeable symptoms, but a simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have hepatitis C.
In the early stages, some peoples bodies can clear a hepatitis C infection on their own, others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection.
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can lead to permanent liver damage.
Hepatitis C is part of a group of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver.
Its mainly passed on through contaminated needles, either from injecting drugs or from needle stick injuries in healthcare settings. It can also be transmitted sexually, especially during anal sex or other types of sex that may involve blood.
Some groups are more at risk of getting hepatitis C than others, including people who use drugs, people in prisons, men who have sex with men, health workers and people living with HIV.
Tests To Diagnose Hepatitis C
How is Hepatitis C diagnosed?
There are two main blood tests typically used to diagnose Hepatitis C. First, youll have a screening test that shows if youve ever had Hepatitis C at some point in your life. If this test is positive, youll have a second test to see if you have Hepatitis C now. These blood tests are described below:
Hepatitis C antibody test
This is the screening test used by doctors to show whether or not you have ever been exposed to Hepatitis C at some time in your life, by detecting antibodies in your blood. Antibodies are substances your body makes to fight off all kinds of infections. If you were ever infected with Hepatitis C, your body would have made antibodies to fight the virus.
If the test result is:
- Negative, it means you have not been exposed to Hepatitis C and further testing is usually not needed.
- Positive, you have had Hepatitis C at some point. However, it does not tell you whether you have it now. Youll need to see your doctor for another test the Hepatitis C RNA test to determine if the virus is still active and present in your blood.
Hepatitis C RNA Qualitative Test
This test will determine whether or not you are currently infected with Hepatitis C. It is often called the PCR test because of the process used . It looks for the genetic material of the Hepatitis C virus in your blood.
If the test result is:
Hepatitis C RNA Quantitative Test
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What Are The Symptoms
Most people have no symptoms when they are first infected with the hepatitis C virus. If you do develop symptoms, they may include:
- Feeling very tired.
- Sore muscles.
- Dark urine.
- Yellowish eyes and skin . Jaundice usually appears only after other symptoms have started to go away.
Most people go on to develop chronic hepatitis C but still don’t have symptoms. This makes it common for people to have hepatitis C for 15 years or longer before it is diagnosed.
How Hbv Is Spread
It is possible for the hepatitis B virus to be spread through the bodily fluids of an infected person, which is to say that the virus can be transmitted through the blood, sweat, tears, saliva, semen, vaginal secretions, menstrual blood, and breast milk of an infected person. That said, having hepatitis B does not necessarily mean that you are infectious only some people with HBV are actually contagious.
Opportunities for exposure can include sharing a syringe or getting tattoos or body piercings with infected tools. But it also means that it is possible to be exposed during childbirth as well as sexual contact and intercourse. In fact, nearly two-thirds of acute cases of hepatitis B in the United States are caused by sexual exposure.
Though HBV can be spread through blood, there is generally very little risk of contracting the virus through blood transfusions as most countries began screening for it by 1975.
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Is There A Hepatitis C Vaccine
There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C infection. Researchers at Canadaâs University of Alberta, the U.K.âs Oxford University, and the University of Ulsan in South Korea are looking into it, and clinical trials are underway in the U.S.
What Blood Tests Are Used To Test For Hepatitis C
Several different blood tests are used to test for hepatitis C. A doctor may order just one or a combination of these tests. Typically, a person will first get a screening test that will show whether he or she has developed antibodies to the hepatitis C virus. Having a positive antibody test means that a person was exposed to the virus at some time in his or her life. If the antibody test is positive, a doctor will most likely order a second test to confirm whether the virus is still present in the person’s bloodstream.
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Tattoo And Piercing Parlors
People who get tattoos and piercings may be at risk of hepatitis C infection if they have these procedures performed in unregulated settings that fail to properly disinfect needles. The viral transmission occurs when blood from an infected person remains on a needle that is then reused. Before getting a tattoo or piercing, check to make sure the business is properly licensedâ and consider asking about its needle disinfection methods to reduce your risk of contracting the hepatitis C virus as much as possible.
Hepatitis C And Health
How can health-care personnel avoid exposure to HCV?
Avoiding occupational exposure to blood is the primary way to prevent transmission of bloodborne illnesses among health-care personnel. To promote blood safety in the workplace, health-care personnel should consult infectious-disease control guidance from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and from CDC. Depending on the medical procedure involved, Standard Precautions may include the appropriate use of personal protective equipment .
What is the risk of acquiring hepatitis C after being accidentally exposed to HCV-contaminated blood or body fluids in the workplace?
Although sharps injuries have decreased in recent decades due to improved prevention measures, they continue to occur, placing health-care personnel at risk for several bloodborne pathogens like hepatitis C. A recent analysis of several studies revealed an overall 0.2% risk for infection among those exposed to HCV-antibody-positive blood through needlestick or sharps injuries . Updated guidelines for management and treatment of hepatitis Cexternal icon are available to provide guidance for health-care personnel who become infected via exposure to contaminated blood at the workplace.
Other than needlesticks, do other exposures place health-care personnel at risk for hepatitis C?
Should HCV-infected health-care personnel be restricted in their work?
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What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus . Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. Today, most people become infected with HCV by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. For some people, HCV infection is a short-term or acute illness but for more than half of people who become infected with HCV, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic HCV infection is a serious disease that can result in long-term health problems, even death. The majority of infected people might not be aware of their infection because they do not have any symptoms. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent HCV infection is by avoiding behaviors that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs.
What Are The Chances Of Getting Hepatitis C From Sex
Hepatitis C can spread through sexual intercourse, but it’s rare. And it’s extremely rare among monogamous couples. In fact, the CDC considers the risk of sexual transmission between monogamous couples so low that it doesn’t even recommend using condoms. Also, there’s no evidence that hepatitis C is spread by oral sex. But you should avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers, and sex during menstruation.
If you have HIV or if you have multiple partners, you should take precautions. Using condoms will protect you and your partners.
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Can You Pass Hepatitis C To A Sex Partner
Sex and Sexuality
Yes, but it is not likely. Compared to hepatitis B virus and the human immunodeficiency virus , it is less likely that you will spread the hepatitis C virus to your sex partner.
If you have one long-term sex partner, and one of you has hepatitis C and one of you does not, you do not need to change your sex habits at all. But, if either you or your partner is worried about the small chance of spreading the hepatitis C virus, you can use latex condoms. This will make it almost impossible to spread the virus. Long-term partners of people with hepatitis C should get tested for the virus. If the test is negative, you will probably not need to repeat it.
If you have more than one sex partner, you are more likely to spread the virus. In this case, reduce the number of sex partners you have, practice safer sex, and always use latex condoms.
There have been outbreaks of sexually transmitted HCV infection among men who have HIV and who have sex with men. It is recommended that men who have sex with men use condoms to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted HCV and other sexually transmitted infections.
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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Populations At Higher Risk
Given the way it is spread, almost anyone can become infected with hepatitis A. However, certain people are at higher risk of contracting the disease than others. These include people who:
- Travel to countries where hepatitis A is common
- Are male and have sexual contact with other males
- Are illegal drug users
- Have blood clotting issues such as hemophilia
- Live with another person who is infected with hepatitis A
- Have oral-anal sexual contact with someone infected with hepatitis A
Can You Be A Blood Or Organ Donor
People with hepatitis C cant currently donate blood. The American Red Cross eligibility guidelines prohibit people who have ever tested positive for hepatitis C from donating blood, even if the infection never caused symptoms.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services , information on organ donation, those with underlying medical conditions shouldnt rule themselves out as organ donors. This reflects new guidelines for organ donation announced by the HHS.
People with HCV are now able to be organ donors. This is because advances in testing and medical technology can help the transplant team determine which organs or tissues can be safely used for transplantation.
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What Causes Hepatitis C
As mentioned above, hepatitis C comes from a virusâthe hepatitis C virus. Globally, there are currently seven known HCV genotypes, which are categories of the virus that share the same genes. The virus can be further broken down into over 67 known subtypes. Types 1a and 1b are the most common, particularly in North America, Europe, and Japan.
The HCV genotype and subtype generally do not matter in terms of how the virus progresses, though some evidence shows that genotype 3 causes liver disease to progress more quickly. However, the viral genotype can determine the type of treatment options available to you.
Contaminated Needles And Infected Blood
You can get hepatitis C from sharing contaminated needles, syringes and other injecting equipment during recreational drug use. Banknotes and straws used for snorting may also pass the virus on.
Being exposed to unsterilised tattoo and body piercing equipment can also pass hepatitis C on. Occasionally, you can get it from sharing a towel, razor blades or a toothbrush if there is infected blood on them.
Hepatitis C infection is also passed on in healthcare settings, from needle stick injuries or from medical and dental equipment that has not been properly sterilised. In countries where blood products are not routinely screened, you can also get hepatitis C by receiving a transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
You can prevent hepatitis C by:
- never sharing needles and syringes or other items that may be contaminated with infected blood
- only having tattoos, body piercings or acupuncture in a professional setting, where new, sterile needles are used
- following the standard infection control precautions, if youre working in a healthcare setting.
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No Identifiable Source Of Infection
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, injection drug use accounts for approximately 60% of all HCV infections in the United States, while other known exposures account for 20-30%. Approximately 10% of patients in most epidemiological studies, however, have no identifiable source of infection. HCV exposure in these patients may be from a number of uncommon modes of transmission, including vertical transmission, and parenteral transmission from medical or dental procedures prior to the availability of HCV testing. There are no conclusive data to show that persons with a history of exposures such as intranasal cocaine use, tattooing or body piercing are at an increased risk for HCV infection based on these exposures solely. It is believed, however, that these are potential modes of HCV acquisition in the absence of adequate sterilization techniques.