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.
What Are The Symptoms And Consequences Of Infection
Approximately 20 percent of persons exposed to the virus develop symptoms which may include jaundice , fatigue, dark-colored urine, stomach pain, loss of appetite and nausea. After the initial infection, 15-25 percent will recover and 75-85 percent will become chronically infected . Approximately 70 percent of persons chronically infected may develop liver disease, sometimes decades after initial infection.
What Are The Chances Of Getting Hep C Sexually
Hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual activity, but it is uncommon. It is estimated that among heterosexual couples, the risk of getting hepatitis C through sexual activity is approximately 1 in 380,000 individuals. However, you are at a greater risk of getting hepatitis C if you have a sexually transmitted infection or have sex with multiple partners.
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Is Hepatitis A Contagious Is It Curable
According to the CDC, it’s very contagious, found in the blood or stool of people who are infected, and it spreads either through close contact or through contaminated foods or drinks. US outbreaks in the past have included contaminated frozen strawberries and scallops. Illness usually occurs within 15 to 50 days after eating contaminated food, according to the FDA.
Most people with hepatitis A don’t have a prolonged illness, but symptoms can last up to two months and include headache, fatigue, nausea, stomach pain and jaundice. Jaundice causes the skin or eyes to take on a yellow color, and it can also cause dark urine or light-colored stool.
Unlike other types of hepatitis , hepatitis A doesn’t typically cause chronic liver damage or chronic illness, but it can cause serious disease in some, including older adults and people with chronic liver diseases.
A CDC investigation into cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in young children is ongoing and isn’t currently linked to the investigation of organic strawberries or any other foods.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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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 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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Treatment And Medication For Hepatitis C
If you have acute hepatitis C, there is no recommended treatment. If your hepatitis C turns into a chronic hepatitis C infection, there are several medications available.
Interferon, peginterferon, and ribavirin used to be the main treatments for hepatitis C. They can have side effects like fatigue, flu-like symptoms, anemia, skin rash, mild anxiety, depression, nausea, and diarrhea.
Now youâre more likely to get one of these medications:
Find out more on treatment options for hepatitis C.
Who Should Get Tested
The only way that one can know if they have hepatitis C is if to get tested. HCV testing is recommended for any anyone who is at increased risk of HCV infection. Such people include:
- Persons born from 1945 through 1965
- Persons who have ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected only once, many years ago
- Persons who received clotting factor concentrates that were made before 1987
- Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants before July 1992
- Patients who have ever received long-term hemodialysis treatment
- Persons with known exposures to HCV, such as healthcare workers after a needle stick involving HCV positive blood and recipients of blood or organs from a donor who later tested positive for HCV
- All persons with HIV
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You May Still Have Liver Damage
If you had high levels of liver damage before you started treatment, you may still have an increased risk of liver cancer after the infection has been cured, says Menon.
To assess liver damage, your doctor will perform a biopsy or a scan either before or after treatment. If theres no scarring, you probably wont need long-term follow-up.
If you have cirrhosis or advanced fibrosis , however, you may need to be followed over the long-term, potentially for the rest of your life. The reason: Your doctor will want to be sure your liver is functioning properly and look for signs of liver cancer. Your liver function can deteriorate to the point where you need a transplant, says Menon.
There is some evidence that new treatments may improve scarring but its too early yet to be sure. The drugs are very new, so its hard to say one way or another, says Menon.
Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis C
People more likely to get hepatitis C are those who
- have injected drugs
- had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- have hemophilia and received clotting factor before 1987
- have been on kidney dialysis
- have been in contact with blood or infected needles at work
- have had tattoos or body piercings
- have worked or lived in a prison
- were born to a mother with hepatitis C
- are infected with HIV
- have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
- are men who have or had sex with men
In the United States, injecting drugs is the most common way that people get hepatitis C.13
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If You Have Hepatitis C
- See your health care provider regularly.
- Tell current and recent sex partners that you have hepatitis C.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
- Get plenty of rest.
If you have hepatitis C, you can prevent liver damage by not drinking alcohol and by getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
You Might Need To Get Vaccinated Against Hepatitis A And/or B
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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.
Read Also: When Do You Get Hepatitis B Vaccine
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.
Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked To Strawberries: Signs And Symptoms To Watch Out For
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
Canadian health agencies are investigating a hepatitis A outbreak in Alberta and Saskatchewan that was likely caused by imported organic strawberries.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada , six people in Saskatchewan and four people in Alberta have gotten sick from eating the fruit. While four people have been hospitalized, the PHAC says there have been no reported deaths.
The imported fresh organic strawberries were purchased in early March at Co-op stores in both provinces under the brand name FreshKampo or HEB. Despite the berries no longer being available on Canadian store shelves, health officials are asking people to check their freezers in case they stored the strawberries for later use.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also identified the outbreak, reporting 17 cases in three states.
Canadian food-borne illness expert Dr. Michael J. Rieder says its not uncommon for fruit to get contaminated with hepatitis A. However, the professor of paediatrics medicine, physiology and pharmacology at Western University in London, Ont. advises that people should be mindful of what hepatitis A symptoms look like in case a person gets infected with the disease.
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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.
What About Pregnancy
It is possible to get pregnant if you or your partnerhas hepatitis C. If you are a pregnant woman whoalready has hepatitis C , the chance of passing the virus to yourbaby is 4 out of 100. The risk becomes greater if themother has both hepatitis C and HIV. With goodprenatal care, babies born to mothers or fathers withhepatitis C are usually quite healthy. The chance ofyour baby being infected with hepatitis C is the samewhether your baby is born by vaginal delivery orC-section. Before breastfeeding, talk to your healthcare provider.
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What Is Hepatitis A
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, hepatitis A is an infection that affects the liver and is typically transmitted through the fecal-oral route. That means a person ingests contaminated fecal matter from an infected person.
For example, if an infected person doesn’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom, the disease can spread from the persons hands.
A person infected with hepatitis A can remain infectious for a period of two to six weeks, but the majority of people infected with the disease will recover within three to six months and likely won’t face life-long health issues.
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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Hiv And Hepatitis C Coinfection
HCV infection is common among people with HIV who also inject drugs. Nearly 75% of people living with HIV who report a history of injection drug use are co-infected with HCV. All people who are diagnosed with HIV are recommended to be tested for HCV at least once. People living with HIV are at greater risk for complications and death from HCV infection. Fortunately, direct acting antivirals that are used to treat HCV work equally well in people with and without HIV infection. For more information about HIV and HCV coinfection, visit the HIV.govs pages about hepatitis C and HIV coinfection.
Who Gets Hepatitis C
Persons at highest risk for HCV infection include:
- persons who ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago,
- people who had blood transfusions, blood products or organ donations before June 1992, when sensitive tests for HCV were introduced for blood screening, and
- persons who received clotting factors made before 1987.
Other persons at risk for hepatitis C include:
- long-term kidney dialysis patients,
- health care workers after exposures to the blood of an infected person while on the job,
- infants born to HCV-infected mothers,
- people with high-risk sexual behavior, multiple partners and sexually transmitted diseases,
- people who snort cocaine using shared equipment, and
- people who have shared toothbrushes, razors and other personal items with a family member who is HCV-infected.
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What Are The Treatments For Hepatitis C
Treatment for hepatitis C is with antiviral medicines. They can cure the disease in most cases.
If you have acute hepatitis C, your health care provider may wait to see if your infection becomes chronic before starting treatment.
If your hepatitis C causes cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Treatments for health problems related to cirrhosis include medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If your hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
How Is It Spread
Hepatitis C virus is mostly spread by blood from aninfected person when:
- Sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. This is the most common way people get hepatitis C in the U.S.
- Getting a needle stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- Sharing items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors, nail clippers, pierced earrings, toothbrushes
- Being tattooed or pierced with tools that were used on an infected person
- Having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus. The risk of getting hepatitis C from sexual contact is thought to be low.
Hepatitis C is rarely spread from a blood transfusion because:
- Hepatitis C tests are done on all donated blood.
- Blood and blood products that test positive for hepatitis C are safely destroyed. None are used for transfusions.
- There is no risk of getting hepatitis C when donating or giving blood.
Hepatitis C is not spread by kissing,hugging, coughing, or sharing food and eating utensils.
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