How Serious Is It
- People can be sick for a few weeks to a few months
- Most recover with no lasting liver damage
- Although very rare, death can occur
- 15%25% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer
- More than 50% of people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop a chronic infection
- 5%-25% of people with chronic hepatitis C develop cirrhosis over 1020 years
How Can I Take Care Of Myself
- See your healthcare provider regularly.
- Follow your provider’s 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 provider’s 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 it’s 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.
- Don’t 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.
- You have a new rash.
Four: Evaluation Of Sources
When the patient source of infectious material is known, it is necessary to follow these:
Test the patient for anti-HBsAg, HCV and HIV antibodies
Evaluation of viral load for routine control of a patient source is NOT recommended
Test the patient by rapid HIV test.
If the patient is NOT infected with either of these viruses, after primary test of the exposed person, further control monitoring is not required.
When the patient source is not known, it is necessary to evaluate the possibility and the level of risk of exposure. To consider the possibility of infection by these viruses in patients, who were connected to the circumstances of exposure . do not test the wasted needles for these pathogens because the reliability of obtained results is not known.
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How Long Does It Last
Hepatitis A can last from a few weeks to several months.
Hepatitis B can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long condition. More than 90% of unimmunized infants who get infected develop a chronic infection, but 6%10% of older children and adults who get infected develop chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness, lasting a few weeks, to a serious, life-long infection. Most people who get infected with the hepatitis C virus develop chronic hepatitis C.
What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. Inflammation is swelling that happens when tissues of the body are injured or infected. Inflammation can damage organs.
There are different types of hepatitis. One type, hepatitis C, is caused by the hepatitis C virus . Hepatitis C can range from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness.
Hepatitis C can be acute or chronic:
- Acute hepatitis C is a short-term infection. The symptoms can last up to 6 months. Sometimes your body is able to fight off the infection and the virus goes away. But for most people, an acute infection leads to chronic infection.
- Chronic hepatitis C is a long-lasting infection. If it is not treated, it can last for a lifetime and cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis , liver cancer, and even death.
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Control Testing And Advising After Exposure To Hcv Include The Following
Repeat the test for anti-HCV antibodies and ALT at the earliest 46 months after exposure
Do the test for HCV RNA for 46 weeks for early diagnosis
During the testing period, the exposed person must not donate blood, plasma, organs, tissue, or sperm
Exposed person should abstain from changes in sexual activity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, or professional activities
Counseling services should be offered.
Getting Tested Is The Only Way To Know If You Have Hepatitis C
A blood test called a hepatitis C antibody test can tell if you have been infected with the hepatitis C viruseither recently or in the past. If you have a positive antibody test, another blood test is needed to tell if you are still infected or if you were infected in the past and cleared the virus on your own.
- Are 18 years of age and older
- Are pregnant
- Currently inject drugs
- Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- Have HIV
- Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Are on hemodialysis
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How Do People Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is spread when the blood of a person who is infected with hepatitis C gets into the body of a person who does not have hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C infection happens the most in people who:
- Are being treated in a health care setting where needles or other medical tools are not sterilized in the right way
Much less often, hepatitis C can happen:
- When a child is born to a mother who has hepatitis C
- From having sexual contact with a person who has hepatitis C
- From sharing items like a toothbrush or a razor with a person who has hepatitis C
In the past, hepatitis C would happen from:
- Medical procedures involving donated blood
- Before this time, the screening process for blood diseases within donated blood was not well controlled.
- Medical equipment contaminated with hepatitis C, before strict infection control was required.
Is There A Way To Prevent Hepatitis C
Although currently theres no vaccine to protect people from contracting hepatitis C, there are vaccines for other hepatitis viruses, including hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
If you receive a hepatitis C diagnosis, your healthcare provider may advise you to get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
The vaccinations are recommended because these hepatitis viruses can lead to additional health and liver complications, especially in those with preexisting liver disease.
Since you cant prevent hepatitis C through a vaccine, the best prevention is to avoid exposure. Hepatitis C is a bloodborne pathogen, so you can limit your chances of exposure through these healthy lifestyle practices:
- Avoid sharing needles, razor blades, or nail clippers.
- Use proper safety precautions if youll be exposed to bodily fluids, such as when performing first aid.
- Hepatitis C isnt usually transmitted through sexual contact, but its possible. Limit your exposure by practicing sex with a condom or other barrier method. Its also important to openly communicate with sexual partners and to get tested if you suspect youve been exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
Because hepatitis C is transmitted through blood, its possible to contract it through a blood transfusion.
However, since the early 1990s, blood product screening tests have been standard protocol for minimizing the risk of this type of transmission.
Subsequent testing is based on risk. Talk to your doctor about your needs.
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Are Alternative Medicines Available
Some people believe certain forms of alternative medicine help cure hepatitis C.
However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that there are no effective, research-proven forms of alternative treatment or complementary medicine for hepatitis C.
Silymarin, also known as milk thistle, is an herb commonly suggested to help cure hepatitis C liver disease. But a rigorous did not find any beneficial effects from this supplement.
How Can I Prevent Spreading Hepatitis C To Others
If you have hepatitis C, follow the steps above to avoid spreading the infection. Tell your sex partner you have hepatitis C, and talk with your doctor about safe sex practices. In addition, you can protect others from infection by telling your doctor, dentist, and other health care providers that you have hepatitis C. Dont donate blood or blood products, semen, organs, or tissue.
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Activities That Can Pass Hepatitis C
- Sharing personal care items: Shared razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers and other household items that might have infected blood on them can pass hepatitis C.
- Condomless sex: In general, sexual transmission of hepatitis C is not common. The risk increases when certain factors are present, such as condomless anal sex, HIV, sexually transmitted infections, sex where blood is present, group sex and chemsex . Thus, the risk of transmission may be higher among some groups of men who have sex with men .
- Transmission from a parent to child during pregnancy or childbirth : The risk of perinatal transmission is about 5%.
- Needlestick injuries: An injury caused by a needle that punctures the skin can pass hepatitis C because of the possibility of exposure to hepatitis C from contact with blood in the needle or syringe.
Who Should Be Vaccinated
- All children aged 1223 months
- All children and adolescents 218 years of age who have not previously received hepatitis A vaccine
People at increased risk for hepatitis A
- International travelers
- Men who have sex with men
- People who use or inject drugs
- People with occupational risk for exposure
- People who anticipate close personal contact with an international adoptee
- People experiencing homelessness
People at increased risk for severe disease from hepatitis A infection
- People with chronic liver disease, including hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- People with HIV
Other people recommended for vaccination
- Pregnant women at risk for hepatitis A or risk for severe outcome from hepatitis A infection
Any person who requests vaccination
There is no vaccine available for hepatitis C.
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How Does It Occur
Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus is spread mainly through contact with the blood of someone who is infected. Sometimes it is spread through sexual contact. You can get the infection from:
- receiving infected blood, blood products, or transplanted organs
- long-term kidney dialysis if supplies or equipment is used that has someone else’s infected blood on it
- contact with infected blood if you are a healthcare worker, especially from accidental needlesticks
- your mother if she had hepatitis C when you were born
- intravenous drug abuse
- sharing nasal cocaine equipment with other people
- sharing razors or toothbrushes with an infected person
- getting a permanent tattoo with nonsterile equipment
- having unprotected sex with someone infected with hepatitis C.
Before 1990 one of the most common ways to get hepatitis C was blood transfusion. However, now blood donors are screened for the virus, and their blood is not used if it is infected. It is estimated that the current risk for getting hepatitis C from a transfusion in 1 in 2 million.
The disease can be spread by people who do not have any symptoms and may not know they carry the virus. These people are called asymptomatic carriers.
Hepatitis C cannot spread by hugging or kissing, food or water, sneezing, coughing, casual contact, or sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses. Hepatitis C appears to have little risk for spread through breast-feeding.
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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Complications Of Hepatitis C
If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver .
Over time, this can cause the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop.
Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.
Who Is Most At Risk Of Contracting Hepatitis C
You have a high risk of contracting hepatitis C if you:
- use or have used injection drugs even if it was just once or many years ago
- have received blood or blood products or an organ transplant before July 1990 in Canada
- have been in jail or
- have been injected or scratched during vaccination, surgery, blood transfusion or a religious/ceremonial ritual in regions where hepatitis C is common.
You have a high moderate risk of contracting hepatitis C if you:
- have tattoos or body piercing
- have multiple sexual partners
- have a sexually transmitted infection , including HIV or lymphogranuloma venereum
- have experienced traumatic sex or rough sex or have used sex toys or fisting that can tear body tissue
- have vaginal sex during menstruation
- have received a kidney treatment
- have received an accidental injury from a needle or syringe
- have another infectious disease
- were born to a hepatitis C infected mother or
- have a sexual partner infected with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is NOT passed from person to person by:
- coughing, sneezing
- breastfeeding unless your nipples are cracked and bleeding or
- oral sex, unless blood is present.
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Three: Evaluation Of Exposure
The potential for spreading the infection of HBV, HCV, or HIV should be evaluated based on the type of infective material, the site of entry of material into the body of the exposed person, and the severity of exposure. Significant exposure may be a risk for further transmission of pathogens by blood and requires further evaluation of body fluids: Blood, sperm, vaginal secretions, cerebrospinal, synovial, pleural, peritoneal, pericardial, and amniotic fluid. Body fluids that do not present the risk of transmitting infectious agents of this type, unless they clearly contain blood, are urine, sputum, saliva, stool, vomit, nasal excrete, tears, and sweat.
Treatments For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can be treated with medicines that stop the virus multiplying inside the body. These usually need to be taken for several weeks.
Until recently, most people would have taken 2 main medicines called pegylated interferon and ribavirin .
Tablet-only treatments are now available.
These new hepatitis C medicines have been found to make treatment more effective, are easier to tolerate, and have shorter treatment courses.
They include simeprevir, sofosbuvir and daclatasvir.
Using the latest medications, more than 90% of people with hepatitis C may be cured.
But it’s important to be aware that you will not be immune to the infection and should take steps to reduce your risk of becoming infected again.
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Can A Transplant Cure Hepatitis C
If you develop chronic hepatitis C and it leads to liver cancer or liver failure, you may need a liver transplant. Hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant.
A liver transplant removes a damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one. However, theres a high likelihood that the hepatitis C virus will be transmitted to the new liver in time.
The virus lives in your bloodstream, not just your liver. Removing your liver wont cure the disease.
If you have active hepatitis C, continued damage to your new liver is very likely, especially if hepatitis C remains untreated.
How Do You Treat Hepatitis C
People with acute infection do not always need treatment, because their immune system may clear hepatitis C on its own. If you test positive during the acute stage, your doctor may ask you to come back after a few months to re-test and to see if you need any treatment.
If people develop chronic infection, they will need treatment to help clear the virus. Where available, treatment with drugs called direct-acting antivirals can cure hepatitis in most cases. These are usually taken for 8-12 weeks. Your doctor will also check your liver for any damage.
If youve had hepatitis C in the past, youre not immune to future infections which means you can get it again. You can also still get other types of hepatitis, and having hepatitis C together with another type is more serious.
If youve already had hepatitis C, its advisable to have the vaccination against hepatitis A and B to protect your liver from further damage.
Whether you have symptoms or not, dont have sex until your healthcare professional says you can.
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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.