How Is It Treated
If you have chronic hepatitis C infection, your healthcare provider will examine you for liver problems andmay prescribe drugs to help control the disease.Hepatitis C drugs can help to:
- Clear the virus from the body
- Slow down or prevent liver damage
- Lower the chance of getting cirrhosis and liver cancer
Before starting treatment it is important to discuss youroptions with your health care provider. Treatment forhepatitis C may not be for everyone. Some patientsmight not need treatment. Other patients might not beable to be treated due to other medical problems.
Hepatitis C: A Deadly Infectious Disease
49 Second Read
The CDC reported more than 19,000 Hepatitis C-related deaths in 2014. In 2013, Hepatitis C-related deaths surpassed the number of combined deaths from 60 other infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
This blood-borne infection can lead to liver disease or liver failure. Its primarily contracted through infected blood, and you may be at an increased risk of Hepatitis C if you have had:
- A blood transfusion before 1992
- Used blood-clotting products before 1987
- Used illicit drugs with shared needles
The disorder most frequently affects Baby Boomers, and the CDC recommends that anyone born between 1945 and 1965 be screened. Most Americans with Hepatitis C were born in that time range.
About 3.5 million Americans live with Hepatitis C and the CDC estimates nearly half are unaware of their infection due to under-screening.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C often does not have any noticeable symptoms until the liver has been significantly damaged.
This means many people have the infection without realising it.
When symptoms do occur, they can be mistaken for another condition.
Symptoms can include:
- feeling and being sick
The only way to know for certain if these symptoms are caused by hepatitis C is to get tested.
You May Like: Do You Die From Hepatitis C
How Did Hepatitis A Start
People usually get hepatitis A by having close contact with a person who is infected, from food or drinks prepared by someone who is infected, or by eating shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water. After the virus enters the body, there is an incubation period lasting 2 to 7 weeks until illness begins.
Hepatitis C Antibody Testing
Testing is essential in the fight against HCV, as if left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to serious lifelong diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. The body tries to fight HCV by making an anti-HCV antibody, which will be found in your blood if exposed or infected with HCV. If a persons test comes back positive, a doctor will perform a viral load test to measure ribonucleic in the blood.
Hepatitis C is easier to treat if caught earlier on. To get tested, please visit your local clinic or learn more about the INSTI rapid hepatitis C test kits, which is the worlds fastest HCV antibody test.
Read Also: Dna Test For Hepatitis B
Baby Boomers Are Especially Vulnerable
“The hepatitis C virus didn’t have a name or a screening test until in 1989,” Reau says. “That means people born between 1945 and 1965, the group referred to as ‘baby boomers,’ are at highest risk of infection. They grew up before health care facilities started taking standard precautions, like not sharing vials of medicine among patients and requiring staff to wear gloves.”
The CDC reports that baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C than other adults, accounting for 75% of those living with the disease.
These are some other reasons you may be at risk:
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviors like IV drug use or unprotected sex
- Your biological mother has/had hepatitis C
- You received blood transfusions, an organ transplant or dialysis before 1989
- You were or are currently incarcerated
Can You Prevent Hepatitis C Infection
Thereâs no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. To avoid getting the virus:
- Use a latex condom every time you have sex.
- Don’t share personal items like razors.
- Don’t share needles, syringes, or other equipment when injecting drugs.
- Be careful if you get a tattoo, body piercing, or manicure. The equipment may have someone else’s blood on it.
Find out more on how to prevent hepatitis C.
Read Also: How Can You Get Hepatitis
Who Is At Risk Of Hepatitis C
Anyone can get hepatitis C. It is important for peopleat high risk of infection to be tested and treated forhepatitis C. In the U.S., you are at a higher risk if you:
- Have ever used a needle to inject drugs, even if once and long ago
- Had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
- Are a health care worker who had blood exposure to mucous membranes or to non-intact skin, or a needlestick injury
- Have ever been on kidney dialysis
- Were born of a mother who had hepatitis C at the time
- Are a Vietnam-era Veteran
- Had contact with hepatitis-C-positive blood to nonintact skin or to mucous membranes
- Received tattoos or body piercings in non-regulated settings
- Have ever snorted drugs or shared drug equipment
- Have liver disease
- Have a history of alcohol abuse
- Have hemophilia and received clotting factor before 1987
- Have had a sexual partner with hepatitis C, now or in the past
- Have had 10 or more lifetime sexual partners
- Have HIV infection
The only way to know if you haveHepatitis C is to be tested. VA offershepatitis C testing and treatment toenrolled Veterans.
How Do You Get Hep C
You can acquire Hep C if you receive blood from a person infected with HCV. Before 1992, when blood screening for HCV infection was not available, Hep C spread through blood transfusion and organ donation. This is not the case now due to widespread screening of blood donors in the United States. However, one can still get Hep C in the following situations:
- Sharing needles and syringes
Read Also: Hepatitis B Antiviral Drugs Cost
Reactive Or Positive Hepatitis C Antibody Test
- A reactive or positive antibody test means that Hepatitis C antibodies were found in the blood and a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time.
- Once people have been infected, they will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true even if they have cleared the Hepatitis C virus.
- A reactive antibody test does not necessarily mean that you have Hepatitis C. A person will need an additional, follow-up test.
Persons for Whom HCV Testing Is Recommended
- Adults born from 1945 through 1965 should be tested once
- Ever injected drugs, including those who injected once or a few times many years ago
- Have certain medical conditions, including persons:
- who received clotting factor concentrates produced before 1987
- who were ever on long-term hemodialysis
- with persistently abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels
- who have HIV infection
Cases Of Hepatitis C In The United States
The CDC reports that in 2018, a total of 15,713 U.S. death certificates had hepatitis C as an underlying or contributing cause of death. This is likely lower than the actual numbers since so many infections go undocumented.
Studies show that baby boomers are more likely than other groups to have been exposed to HCV. Most of them contracted infections between 1970 and 1990 during a peak of new infections.
And since people with an HCV infection might not show symptoms, they may unknowingly transmit the virus to others.
Today, the most common risk factor for hepatitis C in the United States is injection drug use.
Since an HCV infection can show no symptoms, the number of new cases is likely higher than reported, according to the CDC.
You May Like: What Are Symptoms For Hepatitis C
Baby Boomers Are At High Risk
If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you are five times more likely to be infected with Hepatitis C. You may not even realize you are infected. More than 75% of adults with Hepatitis C are baby boomers, and as they age, there is a greater chance that they will develop serious, life-threatening liver disease from Hepatitis C.
The reason that baby boomers have the highest rates of Hepatitis C is not completely understood. Most boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of Hepatitis C were highest. Some may have been infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening of the blood supply began in 1992. Still, for many the cause of infection is unknown.
Testing, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer. The CDC recommends that all persons born in these years be tested for Hepatitis C. Check with your doctor or a healthcare provider about testing.
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.
Also Check: Should I Get Hepatitis B Vaccine
Hepatitis C Kills More Americans Than Any Other Infectious Disease
New CDC studies underscore urgency of hepatitis C testing and treatment, especially for baby boomers
Contact:Media Relations 639-3286
Deaths associated with hepatitis C reached an all-time high of 19,659 in 2014, according to new surveillance data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
A second CDC study, published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases, shows that annual hepatitis C-related mortality in 2013 surpassed the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases reported to CDC, including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis. Further, both studies use data from death certificates, which often underreport hepatitis C, so there likely were even more hepatitis C-related deaths than these numbers suggest.
The greatest hepatitis C burden falls on baby boomers those born from 1945 to 1965 many of whom have unknowingly been living with the infection for many years. According to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases earlier this year, many baby boomers were infected during medical procedures in the years after World War II, when injection and blood transfusion technologies were not as safe as they are today. Without diagnosis and treatment, they increasingly develop liver cancer and other life-threatening hepatitis C-related diseases, and they may unknowingly transmit the disease to others.
How Common Is Hepatitis C In The United States
In the United States, hepatitis C is the most common chronic viral infection found in blood and spread through contact with blood.14
Researchers estimate that about 2.7 million to 3.9 million people in the United States have chronic hepatitis C.13 Many people who have hepatitis C dont have symptoms and dont know they have this infection.
Since 2006, the number of new hepatitis C infections has been rising, especially among people younger than age 30 who inject heroin or misuse prescription opioids and inject them.15,16
New screening efforts and more effective hepatitis C treatments are helping doctors identify and cure more people with the disease. With more screening and treatment, hepatitis C may become less common in the future. Researchers estimate that hepatitis C could be a rare disease in the United States by 2036.17
Recommended Reading: How Long Can You Live With Hepatitis C
Anyone Living With Hiv
- If you are living with HIV and also have Hepatitis C, you are at increased risk for serious, life-threatening complications. All persons living with HIV should be tested for Hepatitis C by their doctors. Hepatitis C can also complicate the management of your HIV.
- If you’re African-American and living with HIV, you’re at twice the risk of Hepatitis C infection.
Testing For Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is usually diagnosed using 2 blood tests: the antibody test and the PCR test. These can be as part of a routine blood test or are often combined as a dried blood spot test. The dried blood spot test is similar to a blood sugar test in pricking the finger to get a blood spot that is put on a testing card. This is then sent to a laboratory to be tested.
Another similar test is an antigen test, which if used can often get the results back in 90 minutes. This is very expensive and not many services have access to the machine needed.
Recommended Reading: Hepatitis C Ab W Refl To Hcv Rna Qn Pcr
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:
Recommended Reading: Hepatitis C Contagious Through Urine
How Long Does Hepatitis A Take To Heal
The prognosis for hepatitis A patients is excellent with self-limiting course, and recovery is complete. About 85 percent of people with hepatitis A recover within three months, and almost all recover within six months. The disease does not become chronic, and there are no long-term health implications.
Recommended Reading: How Much Is Hepatitis A Vaccine
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.”
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 its 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.
You May Like: Hepatitis C How Does It Spread
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.
What Is Hepatitis C
The HCV virus infects the liver and leads to its inflammation. Hep C can manifest in a variety of ways, ranging from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious, lifelong illness. Thus, Hep C is divided into two broad categories: acute, meaning a new infection and chronic, meaning a potentially lifelong infection.
- Acute Hep C occurs within the first six months of HCV infection. Around 50% of acute cases progress to a long-term chronic stage.
- Chronic Hep C refers to the long-term persistence of Hep C disease and can be a lifelong infection if left untreated. Without proper treatment chronic Hep C can cause serious health problems, including:
- Easy bruising and bleeding
Also Check: What Is The Medication For Hepatitis C
How Long Can You Have Hepatitis C Without Knowing
So, why is hepatitis C so common and unique at the same time? Known as a silent killer, many people with HCV are asymptomatic, sometimes even for years. In fact, people with acute infections are often asymptomatic. As such, someone may not know they are infected, so the virus can remain hidden for years.
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.
Also Check: What Does Hepatitis B Reactive Mean