Clinical Features And Diagnostic Evaluation
Most patients with chronic HCV are asymptomatic or may present with nonspecific symptoms such as fatigue or malaise. Some of them may have arthralgia and myalgia. Patients with decompensated disease may display peripheral manifestations of cirrhosis, such as palmar erythema, spider nevi, Dupuytrens contracture, gynaecomastia, parotid enlargement, temporal muscle wasting, ascites, hepatosplenomegaly or testicular atrophy. The diagnosis of HCV is made by the presence of anti-HCV antibody and HCV RNA in the blood. Further evaluation includes genotyping and quantifying HCV viral level, which usually is in the range of 0.25 million IU ml1. Basic laboratory tests like liver function tests, prothrombin time and hepatitis B as well as HIV serologies should be performed. Liver biopsy is often useful in making the correct diagnosis and determining the severity of inflammation and stage of fibrosis .
Some Forms Can Lead To Cancer
Unless treated properly, inflammation from chronic hepatitis can lead to cell damage and, eventually, liver cancer. The CDC reported in 2010 that a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma was on the rise and that chronic hepatitis B and C infections accounted for an estimated 78% of HCC cases worldwide. “Most of the patients we see with liver cancer, the number one reason is chronic hepatitis C followed by chronic hepatitis B,” Dr. Dieterich says. And if you have a family history of liver cancer or your infection has caused internal, irreversible scarring from a condition called cirrhosis, your chances of developing cancer are even greater. Since it can be hard to tell if you even have hepatitis, it’s a good idea to get tested if you think there’s a chance you’ve been exposed, especially if you’ve used injected drugs, been on dialysis, had a blood transfusion before 1992, or were born between 1945 and 1965. Yes, baby boomers are the most likely group to develop hepatitis C, according to a 2013 report.
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How Can I Protect Myself From Hepatitis C Infection
If you dont have hepatitis C, you can help protect yourself from hepatitis C infection by
- not sharing drug needles or other drug materials
- wearing gloves if you have to touch another persons blood or open sores
- making sure your tattoo artist or body piercer uses sterile tools and unopened ink
- not sharing personal items such toothbrushes, razors, or nail clippers
Hepatitis C can spread from person to person during sex, but the chances are low. People who have multiple sex partners, have HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, or who engage in rough or anal sex have a higher chance of getting hepatitis C. Talk with your doctor about your risk of getting hepatitis C through sex and about safe sex practices, such as using a latex or polyurethane condom to help prevent the spread of hepatitis C.
If you had hepatitis C in the past and your body fought off the infection or medicines cured the infection, you can get hepatitis C again. Follow the steps above, and talk with your doctor about how to protect yourself from another hepatitis C infection.
If you think you may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus, see your doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage.
Also Check: How Did You Get Hepatitis B
How Is Hepatitis B Prevented
A vaccine can prevent hepatitis B. Since 1991, U.S. health officials have recommended that all newborns receive the necessary three injections. All children ages 11 or 12 should be vaccinated if they did not get the shots as babies. This, officials hope, may virtually eliminate the disease in the youngest generation of Americans.
The vaccine is also recommended for everyone at high risk, including health care workers, people who have had sex with multiple partners, and anyone who lives with, has sex with, or takes care of a person who has hepatitis B.
Once a person has been exposed to hepatitis B, speedy treatment with hepatitis B immune globulin , coupled with vaccination, sometimes can prevent infection in adults. When mothers have hepatitis B, immediate treatment of their newborns can prevent the babies from developing chronic hepatitis.
For people who have not been vaccinated, hepatitis B can be prevented by not having unprotected sex, using condoms, and not using intravenous drugs.
In addition, people should avoid contact with blood. They should not share razors, toothbrushes, or any items that have even the slightest amount of blood on them. Infected people should cover any wounds they may have and should dispose of or wash any tissues, clothes, or sanitary napkins that may contain their blood.
Risk Of Childhood Infection
Those with the highest risk for infection are older adolescents and adults engaging in high-risk behaviors such as drug use and unprotected sex with multiple partners.
Far less common sources of childhood hepatitis B infection include:
- breast milk from an infected mother
- contact with blood, saliva, tears, or urine from an infected household member
- blood transfusions
However, the following children are at particular risk for hepatitis B infection:
- children of immigrants and refugees or children adopted from regions where hepatitis B is endemic, including Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazon Basin, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East
- Alaskan natives and Pacific Islanders
- children living in households with a chronically hepatitis-B-infected person
- children living in institutions
- children receiving certain blood products
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Preparing A Child For An Injection
Most children are afraid of injections however, there are simple methods for easing a child’s fear . Prior to the vaccination parents should take the following steps:
- Tell children that they will be getting a shot and that it will feel like a prick however, it will only sting for a few seconds.
- Explain to children that the shot will prevent them from becoming sick.
- Have older siblings comfort and reassure a younger child.
- Bring along the child’s favorite toy or blanket.
- Never threaten children by telling them they will get a shot.
- Read the vaccination information statement and ask questions of the medical practitioner.
During the vaccination parents should take the following steps:
- Hold the child.
- Make eye contact with the child and smile.
- Talk softly and comfort the child.
- Distract the child by pointing out pictures or objects or using a hand puppet.
- Sing or tell the child a story.
- Have the child tell a story.
- Teach the child to focus on something other than the shot.
- Help the child take deep breaths.
- Allow the child to cry.
- Stay calm.
What Causes Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus causes hepatitis C. The hepatitis C virus spreads through contact with an infected persons blood. Contact can occur by
- sharing drug needles or other drug materials with an infected person
- getting an accidental stick with a needle that was used on an infected person
- being tattooed or pierced with tools or inks that were not kept sterilefree from all viruses and other microorganismsand were used on an infected person before they were used on you
- having contact with the blood or open sores of an infected person
- using an infected persons razor, toothbrush, or nail clippers
- being born to a mother with hepatitis C
- having unprotected sex with an infected person
You cant get hepatitis C from
- being coughed or sneezed on by an infected person
- drinking water or eating food
- hugging an infected person
- shaking hands or holding hands with an infected person
- sharing spoons, forks, and other eating utensils
- sitting next to an infected person
A baby cant get hepatitis C from breast milk.18
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Fact: You Need To Wear A Condom During Sex Even If You Are Both Hiv
If you and your partner have HIV, you still need to practice safer sex. Use a condom every time you have vaginal, oral, or anal sex. Condoms can protect you from other sexually transmitted infections .
Also, since there are different strains of HIV, you can be infected a second time with a different type than what you already have. Some forms of HIV are also more virulent, meaning they progress to AIDS faster. You could become infected with a drug-resistant strain of HIV. This can make it very hard for treatment to work.
Black Americans And Hepatitis B
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics show that Black and white Americans had the same rate of acute hepatitis B infection in 2018.
CDC statistics also show that Black adults had a lower rate of chronic hepatitis B infection than white adults between 2013 and 2016, a much higher hepatitis Brelated death rate in 2016, and a lower HBV vaccination rate in 2015.
The percentage of Black adolescents ages 13 to 17 who had ever received three or more doses of the hepatitis B vaccination was the same as the percentage of white adolescents in 2016.
And the percentage of Black and white children ages 19 to 35 months who had received three doses of hepatitis B vaccine in 2016 was the same.
Data collected in 2009 and 2010 from the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health across the United States suggests that there are disparities in care when it comes to hepatitis B screening, referral to care, and the initiation of antiviral therapy.
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You Can Have It And Not Know It
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus . HCV is far more infectious than HIV. Presently, there is no vaccine to prevent HCV infection.
In 2011, it is estimated that over 220,000 people in Canada were infected with HCV. In 2012, 10,180 new cases of hepatitis C were reported in Canada. It has been estimated that over 40% of people living with chronic hepatitis C don’t even know they are infected.
About 15 to 25 percent of adults will recover within 6 months of becoming infected . The remaining 75 to 85 percent are unable to clear the virus and will become chronically infected. Chronic hepatitis C is treatable and in some instances can be cured.
Why is hepatitis C a health concern?
Many people infected with HCV do not know they have the virus because symptoms can take two to six months to appear and the majority of people will not develop symptoms. During this time, they can spread the infection to others. You may not know you have this infection until damage has already been done to your liver. Potential complications from chronic hepatitis C include cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, liver cancer and premature death.
Why do I need my liver?
How is hepatitis C virus spread?
The most common risk factors for HCV infection include:
What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
How can I find out if I have hepatitis C?
How can I protect myself and others against HCV?
What if I have hepatitis C?
People With Hepatitis C Can Help Protect Others From Getting The Virus
People with hepatitis C are advised not to share personal items that could have even tiny amounts of blood on them, says Graham. This includes toothbrushes, razors, and clippers, which should be kept in a separate kit so that nobody accidentally uses them.
If you or a loved one has hepatitis C, clean up any spilled blood right away with a solution of bleach and water. Cover blisters or cuts with bandages, and carefully dispose of anything with blood on it, like bandages or tampons, the ALF advises.
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Things You Didn’t Know About Hepatitis C
The spotlight has been on hepatitis C recently with the latest advancements in treatment options. Here are a few facts that you might not know about Hepatitis C.
Fact: There Is No Vaccine To Prevent Hiv
Right now we do not have a vaccine to prevent HIV. Vaccines are the best way to prevent diseases you can get from other people, like the measles, mumps, or polio. Researchers have been working for more than 20 years to develop a safe and effective vaccine against HIV.
HIV is a complicated virus that changes over time. This makes vaccine research difficult, and it takes a long time to do the research. Researchers are closer to developing a vaccine to prevent HIV and a vaccine to treat HIV and AIDS.5
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How Do You Get Hepatitis C
The hepatitis C virus is usually spread through blood-to-blood contact.
Some ways the infection can be spread include:
- sharing unsterilised needles particularly needles used to inject recreational drugs
- sharing razors or toothbrushes
- from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby
- through unprotected sex although this is very rare
In the UK, most hepatitis C infections happen in people who inject drugs or have injected them in the past.
It’s estimated around half of those who inject drugs have the infection.
This Saturday 28 July Is World Hepatitis Day To Highlight This Important Cause We’ve Prepared A Short Blog With 4 Important Facts Everyone Should Know About Viral Hepatitis
This Saturday 28 July is World Hepatitis Day which aims to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis. To highlight this important cause we’ve prepared a short blog with 4 important facts about hepatitis. You can find out more about how to support the World Hepatitis Day campaign here.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer it is one of the leading causes of deaths worldwide killing more than 1.3 million people every year.
There are five main types of the hepatitis virus known as A, B, C, D and E, with types B and C being the most common cause of liver cancer and accounting for every 2 in 3 liver cancer deaths.
Approximately 9 in 10 men and women living with viral hepatitis do not know they are infected. This means that an estimated 300 million people are unknowningly living with hepatitis, including 42 million children.
People in their thirties are more likely to have undiagnosed hepatitis B compared to any other age group, while those aged between 45 and 60 are the highest risk group for being unaware they have hepatitis C.
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Treatment And Medication Options For Hepatitis D
Medications are not effective against acute hepatitis D, but fortunately, the acute infection tends to subside on its own.
As for chronic hepatitis D, appropriate treatment depends on the phase of the disease and how severe the infection is.
If a persons liver is severely damaged, a liver transplant may become necessary.
While treatment options for hepatitis D are limited, new medications are being studied.
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.
Also Check: What Does Hepatitis B Come From
Fact: People With Hiv Should Start Hiv Medicine Right Away
Even if you’re feeling great and have no symptoms, HIV is hurting your immune system. To protect your immune system, most experts recommend starting HIV medicines as soon as you are diagnosed with HIV. Because these drugs reduce your “viral load,” or the amount of HIV in your blood, they also reduce your chances of passing HIV to others.
If You Notice Symptoms See A Doctor Right Away
Symptoms of hepatitis C include the following:
- Jaundice a yellowish tone to the eyes and skin
- Mild, chronic right belly pain
- Loss of appetite
If you believe you have been exposed to hepatitis C or notice any symptoms, visit your primary care doctor as soon as possible. If you test positive for the virus, your doctor can refer you to a hepatologist to discuss your options.
“I strongly encourage all baby boomers and others who are at high risk to get tested, even if you don’t look or feel sick,” Reau says. “If you do have hepatitis C, the earlier we discover it, the more likely we can prevent it from progressing and causing more serious damage.”
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What Are The Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Most people infected with hepatitis C have no symptoms. Some people with an acute hepatitis C infection may have symptoms within 1 to 3 months after they are exposed to the virus. These symptoms may include
If you have chronic hepatitis C, you most likely will have no symptoms until complications develop, which could be decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis C screening is important, even if you have no symptoms.