What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a bloodborne virus that is spread when blood from an infected individual enters the body of someone who is not infected. The HCV infection can cause both chronic and acute hepatitis in an individual. Acute hepatitis describes individuals who have only had the hepatitis C virus infection for 6 months or less, which is considered an acute infection. In chronic hepatitis cases, the infection is long-term. A chronic infection is a significant risk factor for liver disease and liver cancer, and is potentially life-threatening if left untreated.
If you think you may be at risk, taking our hep C test kit can help you check if you have this infection. Our HCV test is quick and easy to take , and you can conveniently view your results on our secure, online platform.
What Are The Symptoms
During the early stages of infection there may not be any symptoms. If symptoms do develop, this is usually within the first six months after infection. Those who do get symptoms may experience:
- flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, muscle aches and loss of appetite, feeling tired all the time
- yellowing of the eyes and skin
- abdominal pain
- loss of appetite and weight loss
- sickness and diarrhoea.
Some people clear the virus after this initial stage. However, some people do not clear the virus without treatment and so they will develop a long term infection called chronic hepatitis. This can cause damage to the liver and can lead to liver cancer.
It can take up to 12 weeks for hepatitis B to show up in tests
Top Five Reasons To Get Tested For Hepatitis
Should you get tested for hepatitis? Roselyn Castaneda, a Registered Nurse and Program Coordinator for the Viral Hepatitis Program at The Ottawa Hospital thinks so. Getting tested for hepatitis is easy, and it can help protect yourself, your family and your friends from serious health problems like liver cancer.
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What Tests Will You Have To Do
You can be tested for hepatitis B at your VA medical center. This test is done by taking a sample of your blood.
Your provider may recommend the following tests:
Hepatitis B surface antibody If this test is positive, it means that:
- you have antibodies against hepatitis B and are safe from getting the disease
- you were either vaccinated against hepatitis B or exposed to it at some point in your lifetime
Hepatitis B core antibody If the test is positive, it means that:
- you have been exposed to hepatitis B and have developed an antibody to only part of the virus
- they will do more tests to find out if you currently have the disease
Hepatitis B surface antigen If the test is positive, it means that:
- you currently have hepatitis B infection
- you can spread the virus to others
Hepatitis B e antigen If the test is positive, it means that:
- you may have active hepatitis B and should be followed closely by your provider and possibly take hepatitis B medications
- you may be very contagious to others
What Is The Treatment For Hcv
There are several drugs that can be used to treat HCV infection. Most commonly, a combination of drugs is used, and new drugs are under development. Before 2000, chronic HCV was curable in only 10% of cases. Now, treatments for HCV can cure over 90% of people with hepatitis C before late complications occur, but even those with advanced liver disease often respond to treatment. This increases the opportunity to intervene early and prevent HCV-associated deaths.
- According to the CDC, recent treatment guidelines recommend monitoring people with acute HCV but only considering treatment if the infection persists longer than 6 months.
- Chronic HCV is usually treated with a combination of drugs.
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Diagnosing Hepatitis A B & C
At NYU Langone, hepatologists, or liver specialists, and infectious disease specialists use blood tests to diagnose hepatitis A, B, and C. These viral infections cause inflammation of the liver.
If the results of a blood test confirm a diagnosis of viral hepatitis, your doctor may recommend imaging tests or a liver biopsy to determine the extent of liver disease.
How Can I Cover Medication Costs
New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are effective and can achieve cures of over 90%. Because these new therapies are very new, they remain very expensive. As such, drug coverage from both government and private companies may require that your liver disease has progressed to a certain stage before they are willing to cover the cost of these drugs.
Talk with your healthcare provider about financial support that may be available.
Below are useful resources when looking for financial assistance:Private health insurance or drug plansIf you have private health insurance or a drug plan at work, you may be able to have the medication paid through your plan. Please consult your private health insurance or drug plan provider to see if your drug is covered.
Publicly funded plansEach provincial and territorial government offers a drug benefit plan for eligible groups. Some are income-based universal programs. Most have specific programs for population groups that may require more enhanced coverage for high drug costs. These groups include seniors, recipients of social assistance, and individuals with diseases or conditions that are associated with high drug costs. For more details, please contact your provincial or territorial health care ministry, or click on the appropriate link below.
Available Patient Assistance Programs for Hepatitis C treatment Holkira Pak Maviret
MerckCare Hepatitis C Program 1 872-5773 Zepatier
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When Should I Get Hepatitis B Testing
Using hepatitis B tests to screen for HBV is recommended for certain groups that are at an increased risk of infection. Groups that may benefit from hepatitis B screening include:
- Pregnant people
- People born in parts of the world where hepatitis B is more common, including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, South America, and parts of the Middle East
- People who didnt receive a hepatitis B vaccine
- HIV-positive people
- Pain in the joints or abdomen
- Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
- Yellowish skin and eyes
Using hepatitis B testing to assess immunity to HBV may be used before or after vaccination. Pre-vaccination testing is not always needed but may be performed if there is a chance that a patient has previously been infected with HBV or has already been vaccinated. Post-vaccination testing is used in certain groups of people who are at an especially elevated risk for HBV infection, including infants born to mothers with a hepatitis B infection.
Reasons For Someone To Get A Hepatitis C Test
Hepatitis C is passed blood to blood. There are many reasons someone may request a hepatitis C test or have one recommended to them. These include:
- possibly being exposed to the hepatitis C virus through contact with someone else’s blood, either recently or in the past
- participating in an activity that can pass hepatitis C from one person to another, even if it was just one time
- having lived in a country where hepatitis C is common
- having had a blood transfusion or organ transplant in Canada before 1992
- experiencing symptoms consistent with either early infection or, more commonly, advanced liver disease
- finding out during a routine checkup that levels of liver enzymes ALT and AST are outside of the normal range
Resources for service providers
- Hepatitis C Testing educCATIE online course
Resources for clients
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Contact Programs And Testing Sites Before Visiting
Contact community-based programs and testing sites before visiting their locations. Hours and availability may have changed due to COVID-19 .
Hepatitis C is caused by a virus that can permanently damage the liver, leading to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. It is passed from one person to another through blood.
Most people who have hepatitis C do not show symptoms, but it can still cause harm if left untreated. The most common reasons people have hepatitis C is because they received a blood transfusion before 1992, or because they have shared drug-use equipment. If you have ever injected drugs, even once, you should get tested for hepatitis C as soon as possible. Hepatitis C can be cured.
To connect with other people searching for help, check out the Hep Free NYC network of patients and providers.
Inherited Forms Of Hepatitis
Several inherited diseases affecting the liver can become apparent, primarily by causing symptoms of acute or chronic hepatitis. Some examples include:
- Hemochromatosis is the most common form of inherited hepatitis and is associated with absorption and accumulation of too much iron in the body. The liver is one of the principal organs damaged, and chronic hepatitis may be due to iron overload.
- Alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency is the most common genetic cause of liver disease in children. In adults, the disorder is more likely to affect the lungs, but cirrhosis and liver cancer are both more common in those with alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.
- Wilson disease is a rare inherited disorder that causes a buildup of excess copper in the liver, brain, kidneys, and eyes. This disease may cause both acute and chronic hepatitis. Unless Wilson disease is treated, it becomes progressively worse and is eventually fatal.
Signs and symptoms of inherited forms of hepatitis are varied and specific to the individual diseases. Click on the links above to find out more about them. Signs and symptoms of the liver involvement in these conditions correspond to those of hepatitis in general. See the section on Signs and Symptoms for detailed information on those.
Laboratory TestsInherited hepatitis may be suspected if there is a family history of liver disease. Some common tests to look for the presence of inherited liver diseases include:
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Ask An Expert: Why Should Baby Boomers Get Tested For Hepatitis C
If you were born between 1945 and 1965, now is the time to consider getting tested for the hepatitis C virus. Baby boomers are five times more likely to have the hepatitis C virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Even if you feel fine, its important to get tested. Thats because hepatitis C is a silent diseasemost people with the virus can go years, even decades, before symptoms appear. At that point, life-threatening liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer, has begun.
We asked University of Iowa Health Care hepatologist Alan Gunderson, MD, to provide details.
Can I Take The Test At Home
Samples for hepatitis B testing can be collected at home. At-home hepatitis B testing requires a patient to collect a blood sample, typically from a fingerstick using a very small needle provided in the test kit. Once a blood sample is collected, it is prepared according to the instructions contained in the test kit and mailed to a laboratory for testing.
Because there are numerous types of tests for HBV, it is important to look closely at the specific components of any at-home test kit. Many at-home test kits only look for hepatitis B surface antigen .
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Treatments Can Suppress Or Even Wipe Out The Virus
Hepatitis C is treated with a combination of medications called antivirals. For many people, they get rid of the virus completely. They do have serious side effects and they donât work for everyone. New drugs recently approved by the FDA are more effective and have fewer side effects. But some are expensive.
Educating Clients About Viral Hepatitis
Clients may believe they know about viral , but their understanding of the disease may not be accurate. It is easy to confuse the three main types of viral , B, and C. Clients may have formed impressions based on limited or incorrect information. Counselors should briefly describe hepatitis A, B, and C, including their prevalence, , and relationship to drug use, as well as to other infections, such as HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Specific strategies for speaking with clients include:
- Speak clearly and keep the message simple, focused, and brief.
- Use language, examples, and concepts that the client understands.
- Use appropriate visual aids.
- Frame numerical statements in terms that are easy to visualize. Say 5 out of 100 people rather than 5 percent of the population say more than half instead of the majority.
- Repeat the information at different times in different ways. The average client retains only approximately one-third of what he or she is told. Summarize essential points.
- Pay attention to a clients response to the information. For example, if a client stiffens his or her posture, consider saying, I notice that this topic seems to make you uncomfortable. It does for a lot of people. Please tell me what youre feeling right now. Id really like to help you with this.
- Use the opportunity to describe the potential detrimental effects of alcohol and other substance use on the liver of a person who is infected with HCV.
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Transmission Symptoms And Treatment
How is HBV transmitted?
HBV is transmitted through activities that involve percutaneous or mucosal contact with infectious blood or body fluids , including
- sex with an infected partner
- injection-drug use that involves sharing needles, syringes, or drug-preparation equipment
- birth to an infected mother
- contact with blood from or open sores on an infected person
- exposures to needle sticks or sharp instruments and
- sharing certain items with an infected person that can break the skin or mucous membranes , potentially resulting in exposure to blood.
How long does HBV survive outside the body?
HBV can survive outside the body and remains infectious for at least 7 days .
What should be used to clean environmental surfaces potentially contaminated with HBV?
Any blood spills should be disinfected using a 1:10 dilution of one part household bleach to 10 parts of water. Gloves should be worn when cleaning up any blood spills.
Who is at risk for HBV infection?
The following populations are at increased risk for becoming infected with HBV:
- Infants born to infected mothers
- Sex partners of infected people
- Men who have sex with men
- People who inject drugs
- Household contacts or sexual partners of known people with chronic HBV infection
- Health-care and public-safety workers at risk for occupational exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- Hemodialysis patients
Who should be screened for HBV?
CDC recommends that the following people be screened for HBV :
What Do I Ask The Doctor
When you visit the doctor, it helps to have questions written down ahead of time. You can also ask a family member or friend to go with you to take notes. Print this list of questions and take it to your next appointment.
- Do I need to get tested for hepatitis C?
- What puts me at risk for hepatitis C?
- How will you test me for hepatitis C?
- How long will it take to get my test results?
- How will I find out my test results?
- If I have hepatitis C, what will happen next?
- Can you give me some information about hepatitis C to take home with me?
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When And How To Perform Post
Which test to use: If testing is needed following vaccination, use quantitated HBsAb only
- Post-vaccination testing is needed for certain groups who are at especially high risk for HBV infection
- The purpose of post-vaccination testing is to confirm if patients have achieved adequate immune response as measured by hepatitis B surface antibody
- Perform testing 1-2 months after final dose of the HBV vaccine series
- Persons with HBsAb concentrations of > 10 mIU/ml are considered immune
- Post-vaccination testing is recommended for some patients:
- Infants born to HBsAg+ women
- Infants born to women whose HBSAg status remains unknown
- Health care personnel and public safety workers at risk for blood or body fluid exposure
- Hemodialysis patients
- Other immunocompromised persons such as hematopoietic stem-cell transplant patients or persons receiving chemotherapy
- Sex partners of HBSAg+ persons
Concurrent Administration Of Vaccines
HB-containing vaccines may be administered concomitantly with other vaccines or with HBIg. Different injection sites and separate needles and syringes must be used for concurrent parenteral injections.
Refer to Timing of Vaccine Administration in Part 1 for additional information about concurrent administration of vaccines.
If You Are A Baby Boomer Heres Another Item For Your To Do List: Get Tested For Hepatitis C
As the youngest of its generation turns 50 this year, AARP has declared 2014 the Year of the Boomer.
There are many ways in which boomers contributions to society can be recognized and celebrated. But if you are one of the 77 million Americans born after the Second World War, your special year would take on greater meaning if you were to pause and think about your liver health.
Specifically, the American Liver Foundation is appealing to you to take the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and get tested for hepatitis C.
Why, you may be thinking, are you being asked to do this? The facts speak for themselves: Anyone can get hepatitis C, but baby boomers are five times more likely to be infected.
Of all the people in the United States who have hepatitis C, more than 75 percent were born between 1945 and 1965.
Over all, considering that an estimated 3.2 million people have hepatitis C in the United States, the disease has been described as an unrecognized health crisis.
There are vaccines available for the hepatitis A and B viruses, but no vaccine is available yet to prevent hepatitis C. So testing for hepatitis C is critical to finding and treating the disease at its earliest stages.
Hepatitis C the silent epidemic
The longer the virus goes undetected, the greater a persons risk of developing serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Why is the baby boom generation so susceptible?
What does the test involve?
Hep C 123 Program