Studies Show A Connection Between Hepatitis C And Mental Health Challenges
Many of those coping with the diagnosis of hep C also develop psychological challenges. As noted in a recent research paper, Around 50% HCV infection patients complain of neuropsychiatric symptoms, brain fog , fatigue, and also show quality of life impairment up to some extent, regardless liver disease severity.2 According to another study, verbal learning impairment and lack of attention are also possible.3
Hepatitis C is somewhat unique because injection drug use is one of the most common ways that hep C is contracted and spread. Many people in this group have struggled with addiction, and addiction itself is associated with mental health challenges. Thus, many people with hep C also have pre-existing mental health issues, which can be exasperated by a hepatitis C diagnosis.
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Public Health Significance And Occurrence Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C occurs worldwide. Current estimates suggest that more than 250,000 Australians have been infected with this virus. An estimated 9,700 new cases of HCV occurred in 2005 however, only 354 cases were determined to be newly acquired, as most cases are subclinical, go unnoticed and are incidentally found.
Three-quarters of people infected with HCV become chronically infected with the virus. Of these, approximately 1020 per cent will develop liver cirrhosis over a period of 1540 years, and an estimated 5 per cent will develop hepatocellular carcinoma after 40 years of infection. This risk can be exacerbated by liver injury, especially concurrent alcohol use. Five per cent of infants born to HCV-infected women develop HCV infection. Breastfeeding is not an additional risk factor for transmission unless the nipples are cracked, or the baby has cuts on or inside the mouth.
There are at least six major genotypes of HCV. At present, the main genotypes found in the Australian population are 1 , 3 and 2 . It is important to determine the genotype because this guides therapy.
Pregnancy And Breastfeeding While Taking Biktarvy
Below are details on pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Biktarvy.
It isnt known if Biktarvy is safe to use during pregnancy, because the drugs use during pregnancy hasnt been studied. If you have HIV and youre pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the best HIV treatment choice for you.
No harmful effects were seen when Biktarvy was given to pregnant females in animal studies. But animal studies dont always predict how the drug will affect humans.
If youre pregnant and taking Biktarvy or other HIV drugs, you might consider signing up for the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry. This program tracks the health of children born to people who took HIV drugs during pregnancy. This can help others with making decisions about their own treatments. See the registrys website or call 800-258-4263 to learn more or enroll. Your doctor may also be able to provide more information.
You should not breastfeed while taking Biktarvy. Emtricitabine, one of the active drugs in Biktarvy, passes into breast milk. And this could lead to side effects in a breastfed child. Its also important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend against breastfeeding your child if you have HIV.
Talk with your doctor about the best ways to feed your child if you have HIV.
You should call your doctor right away if you experience symptoms of
- worsening of existing hepatitis B
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Antivirals Can Cure Hepatitis C
More than 90 percent of people who have hepatitis C can be cured with an 8- to 12-week course of direct-acting antivirals, according to the CDC.
Sometimes patients who are infected believe that hep C is a death sentence and that it will inevitably lead to liver failure or liver cancer, but that is not the case, says Cody Chastain, MD, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Today, hepatitis C can be treated quickly and effectively.
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Treatment Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is treated with antiviral medications that aim to clear the virus from your body.
New all-tablet treatments have greatly improved the outcomes for people with hepatitis C. These treatments can cure more than 95% of individuals with chronic hepatitis C. There are several new tablets that are used in combination to treat all hepatitis C strains . They are effective for people with no liver damage and those who have more advanced liver damage or cirrhosis.
These new tablet medications are available and subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and can be prescribed by specialists, general practitioners and specialised nurse practitioners.
There are no restrictions on accessing treatment it is available for all adults with a Medicare card. People under 18 are able to access treatment and it is recommended they are referred to a pediatrician experienced in the treatment of hepatitis C.
For more information on the new medications for the treatment of hepatitis C, see our video: Hepatitis C Cure what it means for Victorians.
If your doctor does not know about the new treatments, you can call the LiverLine on for information, and to find a GP who can help you.
Talk with your doctor about treatment options and the potential for interactions with other medications, herbal preparations and other drugs. If you take prescribed medication this will be managed so you can access treatment.
In general, if you have hepatitis C you will feel better if you:
How Much Does Hepatitis C Treatment Cost
The cost of hep C treatment varies depending on the type of drug. However, an 8- to 12-week course can range from $54,000 to $95,000 .
For example, the price of a 12-week course of Zepatier can be as much as $54,600, and a 12-week course of Harvoni can cost as much as $94,500.
Without insurance, youre responsible for the full amount out-of-pocket. And even with insurance, the cost can range into the thousands, after adding in drug copays and coinsurance.
If you qualify for patient assistant programs, you might receive your medication for as little as $5 out-of-pocket.
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About The Hepatitis C Virus
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that predominantly infects the cells of the liver. This can result in inflammation and significant damage to the liver. It can also affect the livers ability to perform its essential functions. Although it has always been regarded as a liver disease â hepatitis means inflammation of the liver â recent research has shown that the hepatitis C virus affects a number of other areas of the body. These can include the digestive system, the lymphatic system, the immune system and the brain.
Hepatitis C was first discovered in the 1980s when it became apparent that there was a new virus causing liver damage. Before being properly identified in 1989 it was originally known as non-A non-B hepatitis. In 1991 a screening process was developed making it possible to detect HCV in blood samples. As a relatively new disease there are still many aspects of hepatitis C which are yet to be fully understood.
There are an estimated 150 million people worldwide chronically infected with hepatitis C. The level of infection, known as prevalence, varies widely from country to country. In some countries, such as Egypt, it is as high as15%. In the United States it is believed to be 1% and in the UK it is believed to be around 0.5%. The virus can only be transmitted by infected blood.
Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis C
Doctors usually recommend one-time screening of all adults ages 18 to 79 for hepatitis C. Screening is testing for a disease in people who have no symptoms. Doctors use blood tests to screen for hepatitis C. Many people who have hepatitis C dont have symptoms and dont know they have hepatitis C. Screening tests can help doctors diagnose and treat hepatitis C before it causes serious health problems.
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Safety Issues With Ribavirin
The use of ribavirin for the treatment of HCV has markedly declined in recent years, but ribavirin may occasionally be indicated as an adjunct to DAA therapy in treatment-experienced individuals. Ribavirin can cause severe hemolytic anemia, especially at higher doses. For persons taking ribavirin, regular monitoring of hemoglobin is recommended. Ribavirin is a teratogenic drug in rodents and may cause birth defects and fetal harm when administered to women who are pregnant. It is therefore contraindicated in pregnant women and in men whose female partners are pregnant. In addition, extreme care must be taken to prevent pregnancy in females taking ribavirin and in female partners of male patients taking ribavirin. Accordingly, ribavirin should not be started unless there is a documented report of a negative pregnancy test immediately prior to planned initiation of ribavirin. Women taking ribavirin should be instructed to use at least two forms of effective contraception during treatment that includes ribavirin and for 6 months after treatment has been stopped. Women receiving ribavirin should have monthly pregnancy tests during ribavirin treatment and for 6 months after treatment has been completed.
Who Should Get Tested
You should consider getting tested for hepatitis C if you’re worried you could have been infected or you fall into one of the groups at an increased risk of being infected.
- Hepatitis C often has no symptoms, so you may still be infected if you feel healthy.
- The following groups of people are at an increased risk of hepatitis C:
- ex-drug users and current drug users, particularly users of injected drugs
- people who received blood transfusions before September 1991
- recipients of organ or tissue transplants before 1992
- people who have lived or had medical treatment in an area where hepatitis C is common high risk areas include North Africa, the Middle East and Central and East Asia
- babies and children whose mothers have hepatitis C
- anyone accidentally exposed to the virus, such as health workers
- people who have received a tattoo or piercing where equipment may not have been properly sterilised
- sexual partners of people with hepatitis C
If you continue to engage in high-risk activities, such as injecting drugs frequently, regular testing may be recommended. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
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Psychosocial Experience Of Living With Hcv
In a narrative systematic review, Miller et al. identified 43 studies on this subject, all of which had been conducted in Western countries. HCV diagnosis was found to have deteriorating effects on social functioning in most of the studies. The authors also concluded that HCV was associated with social marginalization, impairment of intimate and family relationships, reduction in substance and alcohol abuse, changes in dietary intake, reduced sense of well-being due to fear of transmission and prognosis, fatigue, hopelessness, depression, anger, and stigma .
You Can Get Hepatitis C Again
Hepatitis C is unlike many other viruses, in the sense that you can be reinfected, even after youve been cured. While people whove been cured of the virus do have antibodies, they dont protect against the virus, says Massoud.
To avoid being reinfected, its important to take steps to avoid the virus. For example, dont share razors or syringes, and avoid sharing toothbrushes with others. Its also a good idea to ask your partner to be tested for hepatitis C, even though the risk of sexual transmission is low.
People who work in healthcare should take additional steps to protect themselves from accidental needlestick injuries.
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Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis C
You are more likely to get hepatitis C if you:
- Have injected drugs
If you have chronic hepatitis C, you probably will not have symptoms until it causes complications. This can happen decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis C screening is important, even if you have no symptoms.
Is There A Cure
Though there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C, treatments can reduce the viral load to undetectable levels which is considered cured or in remission.
The virus is considered cured when it is not detected in your blood 12 weeks after treatment is completed. This is otherwise known as a sustained virologic response .
Hepatitis C is one of the most serious hepatitis viruses. However, with newer treatments developed over the past few years, the virus is much more manageable than it was in the past.
Current antiviral drugs that help cure hepatitis C may also help prevent the health complications of chronic liver disease.
The reports less than half of people who contract the hepatitis C virus may clear it from their bodies without treatment. For this group of people, the virus will be a short-term acute condition that goes away without treatment.
But for most people, acute hepatitis C will likely develop into a chronic condition that requires treatment.
Since the virus often doesnt produce symptoms until after more significant liver damage occurs, its important to get tested for hepatitis C if you think you might have been exposed.
approved the antiviral drug Mavyret for an 8-week treatment period for people with all genotypes of hepatitis C.
This treatment is now being used for many people instead of the 12-week treatment that was previously required.
Noninvasive ways to test for liver damage caused by hepatitis C are also now available to aid in diagnosis.
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How Do I Know If I Have He
If youre having some of the symptoms described above but dont have problems with your liver, its likely that your symptoms are triggered by a different cause of forgetfulness. Mental ability changes can be caused by dozens of conditions, some of which are reversible and others that are progressive .
If you do have a liver condition such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, it is more likely that HE is the cause of your symptoms. Either way, you should contact your healthcare provider right away if you notice mental ability changes because several causes of memory loss have better outcomes if theyre caught and treated early.
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Does Biktarvy Cause Weight Gain
No, this hasnt been reported in clinical trials of Biktarvy.
However, Biktarvy contains active drugs from a class of medications* called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. It also contains an active drug from a class of medications called integrase inhibitors. And drugs in these classes have been reported to cause weight gain.
If you notice unintended weight gain while taking Biktarvy, tell your doctor. They can recommend ways to handle this side effect.
* A class of medications is a group of drugs that work in a similar way. Biktarvy contains the active drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide, which are nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. It also contains the active drug bictegravir sodium, which is an integrase inhibitor.
Treating Hepatitis C Matters
When you see your doctor and start treatment for a chronic hep C infection, you can prevent these problems, improve them, or keep them from getting worse. New drugs can clear the virus from your body in a few months with fewer side effects than older medicines. If thereâs no virus in your blood 3 months after treatment, youâre considered cured.
Getting rid of the infection protects others, too. Hepatitis C spreads through blood-to-blood contact. You could infect a loved one if you accidentally use their toothbrush or cut yourself and donât clean up the blood properly. People who get hep C treatment greatly lower the odds that they will pass the virus to someone else.
If you arenât sure if you have hepatitis C, talk to your doctor to see if you should get tested. Learn why you should get tested for hepatitis C.
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