Thursday, October 6, 2022

Is Viral Hepatitis C Contagious

What Does It Mean When Different Types Of Blood Tests For Hepatitis C Give Different Results

Viral Hepatitis C

The first test your provider probably will perform is called an “antibody” test. A positive result means that you were exposed to the hepatitis C virus at some point in your life.

If the result is positive, your provider will perform a second test called hepatitis C virus RNA to see if the virus is still in your body. If the RNA test result is positive, then you have chronic hepatitis C infection.

So what does it mean if you have a positive result for the first test but a negative result for the second?

  • The most likely explanation is that you were infected with hepatitis C but your own immune system fought off the virus. This means you do not have chronic hepatitis C infection, and are not at risk of any medical problems related to hepatitis C.
  • The second possible explanation is that you were infected with hepatitis C but the amount of virus in your body is too small to be detected by the standard test. If someone had virus that was present but such a low amount that the test wasn’t able to detect it, then there could be a “false negative HCV RNA” test. But the newest techniques used by labs for HCV RNA are extremely sensitive and can detect as few as 12 copies of the virus . So, this scenario is possible where you could have a false negative test, but it is unlikely.
  • How Is Hepatitis C Transmitted

    Because HCV is primarily spread through contact with infected blood, people who inject drugs are at increased risk for HCV infection. HCV can also be transmitted from an infected mother to child at the time of birth, from unregulated tattoos or body piercings, and from sharing personal items that may be contaminated with infected blood, even in amounts too small to see. Much less often, HCV transmission occurs through sexual contact with an HCV-infected partner, especially among people with multiple sex partners and men who have sex with men. Currently in the United States, health care related transmission of HCV is rare, but people can become infected from accidental needle sticks and from breaches in infection control practices in health care facilities.

    Relationship Between Hepatitis C Virus And Liver Cancer

    Hepatitis C virus are causing acute and chronic infections that is a major cause of hepatocellular carcinoma , advanced hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis.

    A major cause of death in HCC patients with chronic HCV infection. The pathogenesis of HCC associated with HCV, that virus play direct and indirect roles.

    A major risk for the development of HCC is persistent infection with HCV and the highest risk for HCC development is associated with co-infection of HBV with HDV, HCV or HIV.

    The risk factors lead to development of HCC in chronic HCV is synchronous liver diseases, viral genotype, lifestyle factors and presence of obesity and diabetes mellitus. The lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol use and coffee drinking accelerated progression to HCC in HCV.

    The purpose of HCV treatment is to eliminate the infection, reduce the transmission to other people and decrease the risk of HCC development.

    Recommended Reading: How Do You Get Hepatitis A And B

    Is Hepatitis B Contagious

    The disease, hepatitis B, is contagious. HBV, the viral cause of hepatitis B, is transmitted person-to-person by

    • blood,
    • semen, or
    • any other body fluid from the infected person.

    Moreover, hepatitis B can be transferred through sexual contact, sharing needles, or from mother to baby at the time of birth.

    Hepatitis C Is The Most Common Type Of Chronic Viral Hepatitis In The United States

    Hepatitis C and HIV: Risk, symptoms, prevention, and treatment

    Viral hepatitis is a group of infectious diseases that causes inflammation of the liver. There are five types of viral hepatitis, but the most common in the United States are hepatitis A, B and C.

    Hepatitis A

    If you travel internationally, you should be aware of your risks for hepatitis A. New cases most commonly result from American travelers who get infected while traveling to parts of the world where hepatitis A is common. Hepatitis A is spread by consuming food or water contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person, or by eating raw shellfish from water contaminated by sewage. Hepatitis A is an acute process. It never is a chronic disease and does not cause cirrhosis.

    Prevention: The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for children people with certain risk factors and international travelers. It requires two rounds of shots to be effective. Washing your hands and avoiding unsanitary drinking water or food washed with unsanitary water is also important. If you become infected, your body is usually able to clear the infection itself within a few weeks.

    Hepatitis B

    Prevention: Doctors recommend that all children get the hepatitis B vaccine. If you become infected, hepatitis B can range from a mild illness to a serious condition requiring hospitalization, and in some cases, it can become a chronic, lifelong problem.

    Hepatitis C

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    How Likely Am I To Become Infected With Hepatitis C From A Family Member Living In The Same House

    Household transmission of hepatitis C is extremely rare. Fewer than 1 in 1,000 family members or close acquaintances becomes infected each year through common, nonsexual contact with hepatitis C-infected persons.

    There are many possible ways by which hepatitis C could be passed from one person to another. Because the virus is carried in the blood, it could be transmitted between household members if a mucous membrane were to come in contact with blood or body fluids containing hepatitis C. Family members sometimes share razors, toothbrushes, or toothpicks, perhaps unknowingly. If an item were contaminated with hepatitis C-infected blood from one person, the virus could be passed to a second person if it were to tear the lining of the mouth or break through the skin.

    Although these sorts of possibilities are often discussed as potential ways for hepatitis C to infect family members, such events occur very rarely.

    If you aren’t sure of your hepatitis C status, get tested. If you test negative and have lived in a household with an infected family member or close acquaintance, you shouldn’t worry that any more contact will put you at risk.

    What Foods Should I Avoid

    Everyone should avoid eating a lot of fat, cholesterol, salt and processed sugar, even if their liver is healthy. In addition, those with HCV should limit or avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol will speed up liver damage.

    Eating properly can help decrease some of the symptoms of Hepatitis C, like feeling tired and sick. Drink lots of water for general health benefits. HCV is not a digestive disease diet will not affect the disease. Your provider may put you on a special diet if you have advanced liver disease.

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    How Does Hcv Spread From Person To Person

    HCV is spread mainly through contact with the blood of a person who has HCV. In the United States, HCV is spread mainly by sharing needles or other injection drug equipment with someone who has HCV. HCV can also be spread through sexual contact. While the risk of transmission through sexual contact is low, the risk is increased in people with HIV.

    How Will I Know If An Individual Is Cured Of Hepatitis B

    Viral Hepatitis

    Not all patients with hepatitis B require treatment, which is generally used in more advanced disease. There are multiple anti-viral agents currently available that are effective in controlling the infection. Your physician will determine if you are a candidate for treatment, and if so, with which agent. Although a commercially available drug is not yet available to cure hepatitis B, researchers in Australia are currently studying an anticancer drug, birinapant. The drug is in clinical trials to determine its potential ability to cure hepatitis B.

    However, vaccines against HBV are available they contain no live virus and can be given to infants, children and pregnant females the vaccines can protect most individuals from getting HBV infection.

    Individuals that get infected with HBV and do not remain chronically infected can become HBsAg-negative about 15 weeks after onset of symptoms. However, patients are advised to consult their physician to interpret the results of HBV blood tests. The majority of adults recover from hepatitis B after several months they become non-contagious and are considered to be cured. Unfortunately, about 2% of adults and more than 90% of children under age 1 do not clear the infection and develop chronic hepatitis B infection. For this reason, HBV vaccine is urged for all infants and for individuals that are exposed to hepatitis B and have not been vaccinated.

    Also Check: Is There Any Cure For Hepatitis C

    What Are The Tests For Hepatitis C

    There are two blood tests needed to diagnose hepatitis C:

    The antibody test–called HCV antibody, HCV Ab, or anti-HCV–is done first. If this test is positive, it means that you have been infected with hepatitis C at some point in the past. If your antibody test is negative, then you have never been infected with hepatitis C if you were infected within the past month or so, the test may not be accurate you may needed to be retested at a later date.

    However, a positive antibody test does not tell you if you still have hepatitis C. For that, you need to have a HCV RNA test, which determines whether the virus itself is in the bloodstream.

    If any RNA is present in the blood after 6 months from time of infection, then you have chronic hepatitis C.

    If no RNA is detected in the blood after 6 months, you no longer have hepatitis C.

    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.

    Recommended Reading: Where Can I Get Hepatitis B Vaccine

    What Do Hepatitis C Symptoms Look Like

    Hepatitis C infection can go through two stages: acute and chronic. In the early, or acute stage, most people don’t have symptoms. If they do develop symptoms, these can include:

    • flu-like symptoms, tiredness, high temperature and aches and pains
    • loss of appetite
    • tummy pain
    • jaundice, meaning your skin and the whites of your eyes turn yellow

    While for some people, the infection will clear without treatment, in most cases, acute infection will develop into long-term chronic infection. Chronic infection may not become apparent for a number of years until the liver displays signs of damage. These symptoms can include:

    • mental confusion and depression these are specific to hepatitis C
    • constantly feeling tired
    • nausea, vomiting or tummy pain
    • dark urine
    • feeling bloated
    • joint and muscle pain

    Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can cause scarring of the liver , which can cause the liver to stop working properly. A small number of people with cirrhosis develop liver cancer and these complications can lead to death. Other than a liver transplant, theres no cure for cirrhosis. However, treatments can help relieve some of the symptoms.

    How Can I Protect Myself From Hepatitis C Infection

    Hepatitis C and HIV: Risk, symptoms, prevention, and treatment

    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.

    Read Also: What Happens When You Get Hepatitis C

    What Is Hepatitis

    Hepatitis is a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver. “Hepatitis” is a general term that refers to any inflammation of the liver.

    Many illnesses and conditions that cause inflammation of the liver. In order to answer the question of whether or not hepatitis is contagious, these illnesses will be broken into two categories infectious and noninfectious hepatitis.

    How Is It Spread

    Hepatitis A is spread when a person ingests fecal mattereven in microscopic amountsfrom contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by feces or stool from an infected person.

    Hepatitis B is primarily spread when blood, semen, or certain other body fluids- even in microscopic amounts from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. The hepatitis B virus can also be transmitted from:

    • Birth to an infected mother
    • Sex with an infected person
    • Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from an infected person, such as needles, syringes, and even medical equipment, such as glucose monitors
    • Sharing personal items such as toothbrushes or razors
    • Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities

    Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus even in microscopic amounts enters the body of someone who is not infected. The hepatitis C virus can also be transmitted from:

    • Sharing equipment that has been contaminated with blood from an infected person, such as needles and syringes
    • Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992
    • Poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in health care facilities
    • Birth to an infected mother

    Read Also: What Is A Hepatitis Panel

    What Are The Different Types Of Blood Tests How Often Should I Get These Tests Done

    There are several different blood tests, or “labs” that your provider may order for you. The tests measure the amounts of various proteins and enzymes that the liver produces. This is a way of finding out how damaged the liver is. Your provider can determine how often each test needs to be done. Please see Understanding Lab Tests for more details about the tests you may have.

    What Is A Biopsy

    Viral Hepatitis

    A biopsy is a medical procedure. A tiny piece of liver is removed and examined to find out the extent of damage. It involves a large needle and local anesthetic, as well as some risk of bleeding. A pathologist looks at the piece of liver under microscopes to determine how much damage has occurred in the liver. This is a very useful test and used to be done very commonly. However, the procedure is done much less frequently than in the past. For most patients with hepatitis B and C, liver biopsy is not required. Today, other tests can be used to try to estimate the fibrosis in the liver.

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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.

    How Can I Protect Myself And Others

    • Never share injecting drug equipment or things that may have blood on them such as toothbrushes and razors. Also avoid sharing straws or rolled up banknotes if snorting drugs with others.
    • Use condoms for anal and vaginal sex and latex gloves for fisting.
    • During group sex, cover anything which goes from one partner to another with a fresh condom or fresh latex glove for each new person it enters. Clean objects with warm water and anti-bacterial soap before using on a new partner.
    • Dont share enema equipment or pots of lubricant.

    If you have hepatitis C you may want to tell a partner and explain that youre infectious. They can then decide if they’re happy to take any risks and whether they want to take precautions. That way they cannot accuse you of infecting them without them knowing that the risk was there.

    Also Check: Fast Track Hepatitis B Vaccine In Houston Tx

    Sexual Transmission And Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B can be transmitted through sexual activity. Unvaccinated adults who have multiple sex partners, along with sex partners of people with chronic hepatitis B infection, are at increased risk for transmission. Injection-drug use and sexual contact are other common modes of hepatitis B transmission in the United States.

    Among adults seeking treatment in STD clinics, as many as 10%40% have evidence of past or current hepatitis B virus infection. Many of these infections could have been prevented through universal vaccination during delivery of STD prevention or treatment services. Offering vaccination to all adults as part of routine prevention services in STD treatment facilities has been demonstrated to increase vaccination coverage among adults at risk for hepatitis B infection, as the behavioral risk factors for STDs and hepatitis B are similar.

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