Monday, May 16, 2022

How You Get Hepatitis C

Should I Be Screened For Hepatitis C

Do You Need to Get 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.

Cost Of Hepatitis C Medicines

The newer direct-acting antiviral medicines for hepatitis C can be costly. Most government and private health insurance prescription drug plans provide some coverage for these medicines. Talk with your doctor about your health insurance coverage for hepatitis C medicines.

Drug companies, nonprofit organizations, and some states offer programs that can help pay for hepatitis C medicines. If you need help paying for medicines, talk with your doctor. Learn more about financial help for hepatitis C medicines.

Medications For Hepatitis C

Many different medications can treat hepatitis C. Treatments most often include antivirals, with Riboviria sometimes prescribed if previous treatments were ineffective.

Medications called direct-acting antivirals work to fully remove the hepatitis C virus from your body while helping prevent liver damage at the same time.

A few brand names of these medications include:

  • Zepatier

6 different genotypes , or strains, of hepatitis C.

Once your doctor or other healthcare professional knows your genotype, theyll have a better idea of which medication will work best for you. Some strains have developed a resistance to some medications, so your genotype can affect your treatment options.

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What Medications Cure Hepatitis C Infection

    Interferons, for example, Roferon-A and Infergen, and pegylated interferons such as Peg-IntronT, Pegasys, were mainstays of treatment for years. Interferons produced sustained viral response of up to 15%. Later, peglatedll forms produced SVR of 50%-80%. These drugs were injected, had many adverse effects, required frequent monitoring, and were often combined with oral ribavirin, which caused anemia. Treatment durations ranged up to 48 weeks.

    Direct-acting anti-viral agents are antiviral drugs that act directly on hepatitis C multiplication.

    Contaminated Needles And Infected Blood

    Know The ABC

    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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    How To Prevent Hepatitis C

    There is currently no vaccine for hepatitis C. Avoiding contact with infected blood is the only way to prevent the condition.

    The most common way for people to contract hepatitis C is by injecting street drugs. Because of this, the best way to prevent hepatitis C is to avoid injecting.

    Treatments can help many people quit. People in the U.S. can call the National Helpline for help with finding treatments.

    If a person finds it difficult to stop, they can reduce the risk of contracting hepatitis C by never sharing drug equipment, ensuring a clean, hygienic environment, and always using new equipment, including syringes, ties, alcohol swabs, cottons, and cookers.

    People who may come into contact with infected blood, such as healthcare workers and caretakers, should always wash the hands thoroughly with soap and water after any contact, or suspected contact, with blood. They should also wear gloves when touching another persons blood or open wounds.

    People can also reduce their risk by making sure that any tattoo artist or body piercer they visit uses fresh, sterile needles and unopened ink.

    The risk of contracting hepatitis C through sexual contact is low. Using barrier protection, such as condoms, reduces the risk of most sexually transmitted infections.

    People who have hepatitis C can reduce the risk of transmitting it to others by:

    There are many misconceptions about how hepatitis C spreads. People cannot transmit or contract the virus through:

    If I Have Hepatitis How Can I Avoid Giving It To Someone Else

    For hepatitis A, one of the best things you can do is wash your hands a lot. That will keep the virus out of food and drinks.

    If you have hepatitis B and C, you need to find ways to keep others from making contact with your blood. Follow these tips:

    • Cover your cuts or blisters.
    • Carefully throw away used bandages, tissues, tampons, and sanitary napkins.
    • Don’t share your razor, nail clippers, or toothbrush.
    • If your blood gets on objects, clean them with household bleach and water.
    • Don’t breastfeed if your nipples are cracked or bleeding.
    • Don’t donate blood, organs, or sperm.
    • If you inject drugs, don’t share needles or other equipment.

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    Preventing The Spread Of Hepatitis C

    There is no vaccine available to prevent a person from being infected with hepatitis C. Recommended behaviours to prevent the spread of the virus include:

    • Always use sterile injecting equipment. This can be accessed from your local needle and syringe program service.
    • Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, nail files or nail scissors, which can draw blood.
    • If you are involved in body piercing, tattooing, electrolysis or acupuncture, always ensure that any instrument that pierces the skin is either single use or has been cleaned, disinfected and sterilised since it was last used.
    • If you are a healthcare worker, follow standard precautions at all times.
    • Wherever possible, wear single-use gloves if you give someone first aid or clean up blood or body fluids.
    • Although hepatitis C is not generally considered to be a sexually transmissible infection in Australia, you may wish to consider safe sex practices if blood is going to be present, or if your partner has HIV infection. You may wish to further discuss this issue and personal risks with your doctor.

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    How Does A Person Get Hepatitis

    A person can get hepatitis A through the following sources:

    • Food or water contaminated with the fecal matter of an infected person
    • Sexual contact

    A person can get hepatitis B in many ways, which include:

    • Having sexual contact with an infected person
    • Sharing needles
    • Being in direct contact with an infected persons blood
    • Transferred from mother to the fetus
    • Getting an infected needle prick
    • Being in contact with an infected persons body fluid

    A person can get hepatitis C through:

    • Sharing infected needles
    • Being in direct contact with an infected persons blood
    • Getting an infected needle prick
    • Having sexual contact with an infected person

    Hepatitis D can be spread through:

    • Transferred from mother to the fetus
    • Being in contact with the infected fluid or blood
    • A person can get hepatitis D only if they are infected previously with hepatitis B.

    Hepatitis E mainly infects people who eat or drink food or water contaminated with the virus. Under-cooked foods can also spread hepatitis E. It is more dangerous in pregnant women.

    Questions For Your Doctor

    When you visit the doctor, you may want to ask questions to get the information you need to manage your hepatitis C. If you can, have a family member or friend take notes. You might ask:

  • What kinds of tests will I need?
  • Are there any medications that might help?
  • What are the side effects of the medications you might prescribe?
  • How do I know when I should call the doctor?
  • How much exercise can I get, and is it all right to have sex?
  • Which drugs should I avoid?
  • What can I do to prevent the disease from getting worse?
  • How can I avoid spreading hepatitis C to others?
  • Are my family members at risk for hepatitis C?
  • Should I be vaccinated against other types of hepatitis?
  • How will you keep tabs on the condition of my liver?
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    Is Screening For Hepatitis C Recommended During Pregnancy

    There is a 4%-7% risk of transmitting HCV from mother to infant with each pregnancy. Currently, there is no CDC recommendation for routine hepatitis C screening during pregnancy, and there is no currently recommended medicine to prevent transmission from mother to infant . However, CDC is monitoring research findings and may make recommendations in the future as evidence arises.

    While data is still limited, a recent study of over 1,000 cases in the United Kingdom found that 11% of infants had been infected at birth, and that these infants were likely to develop cirrhosis in their early 30s. The case for screening for HCV during pregnancy includes the potential to safely treat mothers during pregnancy with direct-acting antiviral agents to treat the mother before cirrhosis develops, prevent infant transmission, and prevent transmission to others. Children born to HCV-infected mothers may also be offered treatment at an early age to prevent cirrhosis, as well as transmission to others. Coordination of care between multiple specialists will be important to accomplish these goals.

    Children of HCV-infected mothers may be screened for hepatitis C as early as 1-2 months of age using hepatitis C viral load or PCR testing . Antibodies to hepatitis C passed from the mother to child will be present for up to 18 months, so children should be tested for HCV antibody no earlier than this.

    Can Hepatitis C Be Treated

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    Yes, since 2010 enormous progress has been made in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. New therapies called direct-acting antivirals are pills that act on the virus itself to eradicate it from the body, unlike older medicines like interferon injections which work by stimulating an immune response. These new treatments are very effective and can achieve cure rates of over 90%. In most situations now, there is no need for interferon, which was responsible for many of the side effects previously associated with HCV treatment. The new treatment combinations require shorter treatment durations , have reduced side effects and appear to be effective at all stages of the disease.

    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.

    Your primary care physician may refer you to a specialist to determine whether you are eligible for treatment. A specialist will help you decide which drug therapy is best for you based on the severity of your liver disease, your virus genotype and whether or not you have been treated in the past.

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    Diagnosis Of Hepatitis C

    If you are at risk of hepatitis C infection, or think you may have been exposed to hepatitis C in the past, see your doctor for an assessment of your liver health. This will include blood tests and possibly a non-invasive test for liver damage .

    There are 2 blood tests used to diagnose hepatitis C. Usually these can be done at the same time but sometimes they will be done separately.

    The first test known as a hepatitis C antibody test can tell you whether you have ever been exposed to hepatitis C.

    It may take 2 to 3 months from the time of infection until a blood test can detect antibodies to hepatitis C, so there is a window period during which you cannot tell if you are or have been infected. In this time, take precautions to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

    The second test is called hepatitis C PCR, which will be done if the antibody test is positive. This determines if the virus is still present in your blood or liver or if you have already cleared the infection.

    If you have cleared the virus or had successful treatment to cure it, the PCR test will be negative.

    A liver ultrasound or Fibroscan can also be performed to assess if you have any liver damage.

    If your doctor is inexperienced in diagnosing hepatitis C you can call the LiverLine on for information, and to find a GP who can help you.

    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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    Sharing Toothbrushes Scissors And Razors

    There’s a potential risk that hepatitis C may be passed on through sharing items such as toothbrushes, razors and scissors, as they can become contaminated with infected blood.

    Equipment used by hairdressers, such as scissors and clippers, can pose a risk if it has been contaminated with infected blood and not sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.

    Acute Phase Of Hepatitis C

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    Acute means ‘new’ or ‘for a short time’. This phase lasts for the first six months. When first infected with the virus, most people have no symptoms, or only mild ones. If symptoms do occur, they develop about 7-8 weeks after being exposed to the virus and may include feeling sick , being sick and feeling generally unwell. Some people go ‘yellow’ . This is due to a build-up of the chemical bilirubin which is made in the liver and spills into the blood in some liver conditions. It is unusual to have severe symptoms.

    Following the initial infection:

    • In about one quarter to one half of cases the virus is cleared from the body by the immune system within 2-6 months. If this happens then you will have no long-term effects from the virus. Younger people and women are more likely to clear the virus in this way.
    • In 5 to 8 out of 10 cases, the virus remains active in the liver and bloodstream long-term. This is called chronic infection with hepatitis C.

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    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.

    Whos At Risk For Hepatitis C

    You might be more likely to get it if you:

    • Inject or have injected street drugs
    • Were born between 1945 and 1965
    • Got clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
    • Received a blood transfusion or solid organ transplants before July 1992
    • Got blood or organs from a donor who tested positive for hepatitis C
    • Are on dialysis
    • Get a body piercing or tattoo with nonsterile instruments

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    Poor Infection Control For Tattooing And Piercing

    The notes that HCV may be transmitted by receiving tattoos or piercings from unregulated settings with poor infection control standards.

    Commercially licensed tattooing and piercing businesses are generally thought to be safe.

    More informal settings may not have adequate safeguards to help avoid the spread of infections. Receiving a tattoo or piercing in settings such as in a prison or in a home with friends carries a of HCV transmission

    How Do You Get Hepatitis C

    Will My Child Get Hepatitis C Too?

    Hepatitis C spreads when blood or body fluids contaminated with the hepatitis C virus get into your bloodstream through contact with an infected person.

    You can be exposed to the virus from:

    • Sharing injection drugs and needles
    • Having sex, especially if you have HIV, another STD, several partners, or have rough sex
    • Being stuck by infected needles
    • Birth — a mother can pass it to a child
    • Sharing personal care items like toothbrushes, razor blades, and nail clippers
    • Getting a tattoo or piercing with unclean equipment

    You canĂ¢t catch hepatitis C through:

    • Have been on long-term kidney dialysis
    • Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
    • Have HIV
    • Were born to a mother with hepatitis C

    Since July 1992, all blood and organ donations in the U.S. are tested for the hepatitis C virus. The CDC says it is now rare that someone getting blood products or an organ would get hepatitis C. That said, The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 18 get tested for Hepatitis C. If you haven’t been screened, you should consider having it done.

    Learn more about the risk factors for hepatitis C.

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