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.
Optimizing The Response Rate To Hcv Treatment
Establishing trust is critical to completing treatment programsâIn a 2019 study led by researchers at the Edith Nourse Rogers VA Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts, a team sought to understand factors that led to successful completion of the new hepatitis C treatment regimens from the perspectives of both Veteran patients and providers.
The team interviewed 38 Veterans from three New England VA medical centers and their health care providers. They found many patients were concerned about side effects of the treatment. Full explanations by providers of the new treatmentâs side effect profile helped get patients to begin and continue with their treatment programs. Establishing trust between patients and providers also led patients to believe the new treatment could provide a cure, which increased the likelihood they would begin treatment and stay with the treatment until it was completed.
Hepatocellular carcinoma calculator developedâHCC is the most common type of primary liver cancer in adults, and the most common cause of death in people with cirrhosis of the liver. The disease is closely linked to hepatitis B or C and exposure to toxins such as alcohol. Getting rid of the HCV through treatment significantly reduces the risk of developing HCC, although it does not entirely eliminate that risk.
Contaminated Needles And Infected Blood
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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Genotyping And Serotyping Of Hcv
Hepatitis C genotyping is helpful in defining the epidemiology of hepatitis C, but on an individual patient basis, genotyping is crucial in regard to treatment recommendations and duration. Genotyping is based on sequence analysis by sequencing or reverse hybridization. Although viral load can vary within a 0.5- to 1-log range, HCV genotype does not change during the course of infection. In case of suspected superinfection, another genotype might rarely be detected. For reliable genotyping, 5URT alone is insufficient, including parts of the core sequence enhance genotyping reliability. Sequencing of NS5b is the gold standard.
Serotyping is the only other option to test for the type of HCV in cases of remote infection. This, however, is relevant for epidemiologic studies only and is not used clinically.
Andrea D. Branch, in, 2004
Does Hepatitis Require Long
If you have hepatitis, your doctor will want to monitor your treatment and liver. Youll have periodic blood tests to check if your liver is improving. Complete recovery may take months. Depending on how advanced the hepatitis was when you were diagnosed, you could have permanent liver damage, known as cirrhosis. You will need regular imaging of your liver because cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer.
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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.
What Are Signs Of Hepatitis C
When you first get hepatitis C, it is called acutehepatitis C. About 15% of people who have acutehepatitis C infection clear the virus from their bodies.The other 85% of people develop a chronic hepatitis C infection. Of these, 50 to 80%, if treated,may be cured.
Acute hepatitis C: Most people with acutehepatitis C do not have any signs. If signs occur, theaverage time is 6-7 weeks after exposure, but can beless or more. Some people can have mild to severesigns including:
- Yellow skin or eyes
- A longer than normal amount of time for bleeding to stop
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Symptoms Of Acute Viral Hepatitis
Acute viral hepatitis can cause anything from a minor flu-like illness to fatal liver failure Liver Failure Liver failure is severe deterioration in liver function. Liver failure is caused by a disorder or substance that damages the liver. Most people have jaundice , feel tired… read more . Sometimes there are no symptoms. The severity of symptoms and speed of recovery vary considerably, depending on the particular virus and on the person’s response to the infection. Hepatitis A and C often cause very mild symptoms or none at all and may be unnoticed. Hepatitis B and E are more likely to produce severe symptoms. Infection with both hepatitis B and D may make the symptoms of hepatitis B even more severe.
Symptoms of acute viral hepatitis usually begin suddenly. They include
A poor appetite
People with acute viral hepatitis usually recover in 4 to 8 weeks, even without treatment. However, some people infected with hepatitis B or C develop chronic infections.
What Are The Side Effects Of Drug Treatment
Common side effects for some treatments for hepatitis C may include the following:
Side effects are usually worst during the first few weeks of treatment. They become less severe over time. If you are having trouble dealing with the side effects of your medicine, talk to your doctor. He or she can suggest ways to relieve some of the side effects. For example, if your medicine makes you feel nauseated, it may help to take it right before you go to sleep.
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What Should Parents Watch For
The general symptoms of hepatitis are dark urine, grey-coloured faeces and yellowing of the skin and eyes, as well as fever.
I think if your child looks even a little yellow, I would go fast to the hospital and do a blood test, Meehan said.
Adenovirus and COVID-19 are not necessarily preventable, but the risks can be minimised by good hygiene, most importantly hand washing.
As kids go back into the world, we should try to reduce their chances of infection in general and this will help reduce adenovirus infections too, Meehan said.
When To Seek Medical Advice
See your GP if you persistently have any of the later symptoms listed, or if they keep returning. They may recommend having a blood test that can check for hepatitis C.
Read more about diagnosing hepatitis C
None of these symptoms mean you definitely have hepatitis C, but its important to get them checked out.
You should also speak to your GP about getting tested if theres a risk youre infected, even if you dont have any symptoms. This particularly includes people who inject drugs or have done so in the past.
Read about the causes of hepatitis C for more information about whos at risk of having the infection.
Page last reviewed: 27 October 2021 Next review due: 27 October 2024
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New Ongoing And Published Research
VA research on hepatitis C includes clinical trials of treatments, epidemiologic studies, investigations of the biological mechanisms of infection, and studies on identifying and removing barriers to treatment.
Some VA researchers are working on projects to improve screening and testing methods for HCV. Others are working to improve the assessment and treatment of patients traditionally excluded from hepatitis C treatment, including those with mental illness, substance use, or who also are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Another area of interest to VA researchers is developing and disseminating models of interdisciplinary care to optimize treatment and clinical standards for treating patients at all stages of HCV infection.
If you are interested in learning about joining a VA-sponsored clinical trial, visit our research study information page.
Who Is At Risk To Get Hepatitis C
Infection with hepatitis C occurs when the virus spreads through the blood. According to the Mayo Clinic, here are the situations that increase your risk of contracting the disease. Among them are people with HIV, those who inject or inhale drugs, those working in health care who are at risk of being exposed to contaminated blood, those in prison, those with tattoos or piercings from questionable areas, or those born to a woman with hepatitis C. People born between 1945 and 1965 are also at risk, as they are five times as likely to have hepatitis C as those born before.
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Learn About The Current Screening Recommendations For Hep C
Medically reviewed in April 2021
If youre wondering if you should get screened for hepatitis C, the answer is yeshep C screening is recommended for every person between the ages of 18 and 79 years, according to The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.
Hep C is a dangerous virus that causes inflammation in the liver, and if left untreated, can cause severe liver damage and even lead to death. Its spread through contact with blood from someone with the virus. Sometimes its just an acute infection, but for most people, it becomes chronic and sticks around for lifeor until you get treated.
This chronic infection causes liver damage, cirrhosis and even possibly liver cancer. But one of the most dangerous aspects of the virus is that many people dont know they have it, it as symptoms may take decades to appear.
Risk factors for Hepatitis C According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , there are certain factors that may put you at a bigger risk. These include:
- People who received blood clotting products before 1987
- Healthcare workers who have had needle sticks or other exposures
- People who have ever injected drugs
Its also possible, though not as common, to get the virus by sharing items that may have come into contact with blood, such as a toothbrush or a razor, and by having sex with an infected partner. Mothers with hep C have about a 6 percent chance of passing it to their children.
Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
It is very important to know that not everyone with hepatitis C has symptoms. The only way to know if you have hepatitis is by talking to your doctor and getting a blood test.
Many people living with hepatitis C feel well and only have symptoms once the disease has progressed and there is serious liver damage.
If you do not have symptoms this does not mean that the virus isnt causing damage.
When first infected, some people may find:
- their urine becomes dark
- their eyes and skin turn yellow
- they experience a minor flu-like illness.
These symptoms may disappear within a few weeks, but this does not necessarily mean that the infection has been cleared.
Over time, symptoms that may develop include:
- tiredness and fatigue
- flu-like symptoms
- pain in the abdomen where the liver is located
- not feeling hungry and indigestion.
Around 30% of people who have been infected may clear the virus from their blood naturally, with no treatment, within 6 months. These people no longer have the hepatitis C virus and are not infectious, but will always have hepatitis C antibodies in their blood. The presence of hepatitis C antibodies shows that someone has been exposed to the virus, but does not offer any immunity against hepatitis C. People can become reinfected after clearing the virus naturally, or after treatment.
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Is There A Hepatitis C Vaccine
Prevention truly is your best medicine for hepatitis C because unlike its cousins, hepatitis A and B, hepatitis C has no vaccine. Thats not for lack of trying: There are currently clinical trials underway to find a vaccine, and in a study published last year in Science Advances, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, showed proof of concept for the development of a vaccine. But despite this progress, not every expert is convinced a vaccine is in the near offing. There are people who have tried to make a hepatitis C vaccine for 20 years and couldnt do it, says Dr. Dieterich. This is a virus that mutates a lot.
In other words, going on the offense with a commitment to healthy behaviors is going to be your best defense against hepatitis C. You can set yourself up for a healthy future, too, by getting yourself checked. Remember, the disease is curablebut only if you know you have it. Go get tested for free today: You literally have nothing to lose.
Lagging on important health checkups? Let this Checklist of Annual Physical Exams for Women be your cheat sheet.
How Do People Get Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C virus is found in the blood of people with HCV infection. It enters the body through blood-to-blood contact.
Until reliable blood tests for HCV were developed , people usually got hepatitis C from blood products and blood transfusions. Now that blood and blood products are tested for HCV, this is no longer the typical means of infection.
Currently, people usually get hepatitis C by sharing needles for injection drug use. An HCV-infected woman can pass the infection to her baby during birth. It is also possible to get hepatitis C from an infected person through sexual contact, an accidental needlestick with a contaminated needle, or improperly sterilized medical, acupuncture, piercing, or tattooing equipment.
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What Does The Test Measure
Hepatitis C testing identifies antibodies to the hepatitis C virus, detects viral RNA, and/or determines the strain of hepatitis C. Hepatitis C testing may involve several different tests:
- Hepatitis C antibody test: Antibodies are a part of the bodys response to an infection. Testing for hepatitis C antibodies determines whether or not a patient has been exposed to the hepatitis C virus at some point in their life. If this test is positive, the next step is to test for hepatitis C RNA which can tell you if you have a current infection.
- Hepatitis C RNA test: RNA is a type of genetic material from the hepatitis C virus that can be detected in the blood. If test results are positive after a hepatitis C antibody test, doctors use a hepatitis C RNA test to look for and/or measure the amount of the virus in the blood. Qualitative HCV RNA tests can detect the presence of HCV RNA, while quantitative HCV RNA tests measure the amount of HCV RNA. Understanding the amount of HCV in the blood helps to monitor response to treatment.
- Genotype test: There are at least six types of hepatitis C, which are also called strains or genotypes. Treatment for hepatitis C depends on the strain, so genotype testing to guide treatment is performed in patients who are diagnosed with an HCV infection.
Can I Take The Test At Home
At-home hepatitis C tests are available that allow patients to collect a blood sample at home and mail it to a laboratory for testing. Test samples are collected through pricking a finger with a sharp object, called a lancet, thats included in the test kit.
At-home HCV testing is a form of hepatitis C antibody testing and does not test for hepatitis C RNA or the strains genotype. Testing for hepatitis C at home is not a substitute for testing performed by a health care professional, and positive test results may need to be confirmed by laboratory-based testing.
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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.
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