Symptoms Of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C often doesn’t 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:
- flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a high temperature
- feeling tired all the time
- loss of appetite
Read more about the complications of hepatitis C.
Can Hepatitis C Be Cured
Considerable progress has been made by past clinical trials in the medical treatment of hepatitis C. The rate of cure has increased with the development of direct-acting, all-oral antiviral regimens, and the length of therapy is much shorter. Treatment recommendations continue to change as new medicines become available. Treatment helps to reduce progression of liver damage to cirrhosis, may prevent liver cancer, and may prevent spread of the infection to other people.
Complications Of Hepatitis C
If the infection is left untreated for many years, some people with hepatitis C will develop scarring of the liver .
Over time, this can cause the liver to stop working properly.
In severe cases, life-threatening problems, such as liver failure, where the liver loses most or all of its functions, or liver cancer, can eventually develop.
Treating hepatitis C as early as possible can help reduce the risk of these problems happening.
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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.
Reasons To Delay Treatment
Hepatitis C treatment is generally not recommended during pregnancy. There is not a lot of information on the effects of DAAs during pregnancy. Research is being done on taking DAAs during pregnancy so this may change in the future.
Treatment that includes ribavirin can cause severe birth defects and must not be taken during pregnancy. When a couple wants to have a baby, both partners should avoid using ribavirin for at least six months before trying to get pregnant.
A healthcare provider can help determine a treatment plan and timeline for a person who has hepatitis C and wants to have a baby.
Children and adolescents
Hepatitis C treatment for children over the age of 12 is available in Canada. It is recommended that children who require treatment for hepatitis C be connected to a specialist with experience treating the pediatric population.
Resources for service providers
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Pregnancy And Hepatitis C
The new hepatitis C medicines have not been tested in pregnancy.
You should not become pregnant while taking treatment as it could be harmful to unborn babies.
If you’re pregnant, you must delay treatment until after your baby is born.
Speak to your doctor before starting hepatitis C treatment if you’re planning to become pregnant in the near future.
You’ll need to wait several weeks after treatment has ended before trying to get pregnant.
Women taking ribavirin should use contraception during treatment and for another 4 months after the end of treatment.
Men taking ribavirin should use a condom during treatment and for another 7 months after the end of treatment. This is because semen can contain ribavirin.
If you become pregnant during treatment, speak to your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your treatment options.
Who Can I Talk With During Treatment
Since hepatitis C treatment plans last several weeks, you should regularly attend medical appointments. Your doctor may have a list of local groups where you can find emotional support.
There may also be other resources like community nurses and walk-in clinics. With this information, youll know where to go for help between appointments.
Another option is to explore the online hepatitis C community, where people share their experiences with hepatitis C.
For example, the Inspire hepatitis C group allows people to connect, share stories, discuss treatment, and more.
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Will The Drugs Be Available By 1 March 2016
Although the drugs will be available for prescribing through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, it may be that not all GPs or pharmacists are fully aware of the new treatments by that date. This means there may be some delay in some areas in accessing the drugs from your local GP. However, the Victorian Government is working with doctors, services and hospitals to ensure these delays are minimised as much as possible.
Treatment For Acute And Chronic Hepatitis C Infection
Some people are diagnosed with hepatitis C when the infection is in the acute phase . About one in four people will clear the hepatitis C virus from their body on their own within six months. When a person is diagnosed with hepatitis C in the acute phase, a healthcare provider might recommend waiting to see if their body clears the virus on its own.
Current treatment guidelines in Canada focus on treatment for chronic hepatitis C infection . The treatment guidelines recommend that treatment of acute hepatitis C infection be assessed on an individualized basis. In many cases, a person has to progress to chronic hepatitis C infection before they can receive public or private drug coverage for hepatitis C treatments.
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Who Can Prescribe The New Drugs
A section 85 listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will allow general practitioners, as well as specialists, to prescribe the new treatments. This means that people with hepatitis C will be able to be treated by a general practitioner in the community. However, people with more advanced care needs, such as cirrhosis, may still need to see a specialist.
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 been sterilised or cleaned between customers. However, most salons operate to high standards, so this risk is low.
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Edema Symptoms Lead To Diagnosis
The Baltimore resident found out he had the disease in 2018 after his feet swelled up. My feet were so bad, I had to take the shoestrings out of my shoes so I could walk, he says.
I couldnt believe I tested positive, says Pannell, 64. I was mad, but I figured that I probably got the disease from sharing needles because I was an addict at one time. Today, Im going on 17 years clean.
After completing eight weeks of antivirals, Pannell was retested. He still had hepatitis C. I was frustrated and discouraged that it didnt work, says Pannell, but my care provider said lets try it again.
After a second round of therapy, Pannell was cured.
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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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.
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
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Can A Transplant Cure Hepatitis C
If you develop chronic hepatitis C and it leads to liver cancer or liver failure, you may need a liver transplant. Hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for a liver transplant.
A liver transplant removes a damaged liver and replaces it with a healthy one. However, theres a high likelihood that the hepatitis C virus will be transmitted to the new liver in time.
The virus lives in your bloodstream, not just your liver. Removing your liver wont cure the disease.
If you have active hepatitis C, continued damage to your new liver is very likely, especially if hepatitis C remains untreated.
Which Drugs Can Cure Hepatitis C Virus
Several agents are available by prescription in the U.S. that can lead to a sustained virologic response , considered a cure for HCV.
Drug combination antivirals for HCV treatment, often taken as one daily dose, are now approved to ease treatment regimens and tend to be more tolerable.
The newer direct-acting antiviral agents medications to treat HCV include:
Hepatitis C virus is transmitted through contact with infected blood. It can lead to chronic liver disease like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. Symptoms of chronic HCV may not appear for 20 to 30 years after infection.
It is important to seek medical testing and treatment for hepatitis C so you can help prevent its spread and have adequate medical care, if needed. Fifteen to twenty percent of people may eliminate the HCV virus completely from their body within 6 months, but most people remain infected and develop chronic hepatitis C.
If you were born from 1945 through 1965, or are at increased risk for HCV infection for other reasons like sharing drug injection equipment, speak to your doctor about being tested for HCV.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends a one-time hepatitis C test for all adults 18 years of age and older and all pregnant women for each pregnancy. CDC continues to recommend people with risk factors, including people who inject drugs, be tested regularly.
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Who Can Access The Cures
Hep C cures are now available to everyone in Australia who has hep C.* The national and state governments want everyone with hep C to be cured, including prisoners and people who inject drugs. Now is a very good time to consider testing for hep C or speaking to your doctor about the hep C cures.
*Cures are available to people who have a Medicare Card or Health Care Concession Card and who arent hospital inpatients.
You might be able to access healthcare and the cures via your computer or phone.
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.
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Causes Of Hepatitis C
You can become infected with hepatitis C if you come into contact with the blood of an infected person.
Other bodily fluids can also contain the virus, but blood contains the highest level of it. Just a small trace of blood can cause an infection. At room temperature, it’s thought the virus may be able survive outside the body in patches of dried blood on surfaces for up to several weeks.
The main ways you can become infected with the hepatitis C virus are described below.
Medicare Coverage Allows For Treatment Success
Sherilyn C. Brinkley, a certified registered nurse practitioner and a program manager at the Johns Hopkins Viral Hepatitis Center in Baltimore, advised Pannell on his care. She says he was fortunate to receive Medicare coverage.
What came with this incredibly easy, short, extraordinarily effective regimen was a really high cost, Brinkley says. Ever since then, weve been able to cure thousands of patients just here in Baltimore. But weve had to really struggle with access to drugs along the way. Many are still not able to get treated because of the cost, and thats a frustrating element of this whole process.
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Who Is More Likely To Get Hepatitis C
People more likely to get hepatitis C are those who
- have injected drugs
- had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- have hemophilia and received clotting factor before 1987
- have been on kidney dialysis
- have been in contact with blood or infected needles at work
- have had tattoos or body piercings
- have worked or lived in a prison
- were born to a mother with hepatitis C
- are infected with HIV
- have had more than one sex partner in the last 6 months or have a history of sexually transmitted disease
- are men who have or had sex with men
In the United States, injecting drugs is the most common way that people get hepatitis C.13
Why Cure Hep C
Curing your hep C clears the virus from your body. It reduces liver inflammation and can help reverse fibrosis and even cirrhosis.
Live free from the worry of hep C knowing that you no longer have hep C can help you feel better about yourself. For example, you may no longer feel worried about passing hep C to other people. There has been no better time to think about hep C treatment.
Find out more about the benefits of clearing hep C call the Hepatitis Infoline.
Grace talks about her experience of being cured of hepatitis C with new, highly effective treatments. Theres never been a better time to be cured of hep C.
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Evolution Of Hcv Therapy
The ultimate goal of hepatitis C treatment is to reduce the occurrence of end-stage liver disease and its complications, including decompensated cirrhosis, liver transplantation, and HCC. Treatment success is assessed by sustained virologic response , defined by the presence of undetectable HCV RNA in blood several months after completing a course of treatment .
Figure 6.1. Evolution of chronic HCV therapies. DAA, direct-acting antiviral agent HCV, hepatitis C virus IFN, interferon PEG, pegylated RBV, ribavirin SVR, sustained virologic response.
Graham A.W. Rook, … Christopher A. Lowry, in, 2018
How Many Victorians Are Affected By Hepatitis C And Who Is Affected
Hepatitis C is the most common blood borne virus in Australia with approximately 230,000 people currently living with hepatitis C in Australia and around 65,000 in Victoria.
The population most at risk of acquiring hepatitis C are people who currently inject drugs including people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, prisoners, older people, and young injectors and/or new initiates to injecting drug use.
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Helpful Tips While Taking Hepatitis C Medications
- Always follow your health care providers’ advice, particularly the instructions on taking your medicine.
- If you have to cancel an appointment, call your provider and schedule a new one as soon as possible.
- Take good care of yourself. Eat well, drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day, and try to get a full night’s sleep.
- Learn about the hepatitis C medications you are taking. This includes special risks and warnings.
- If taking ribavirin, use sunscreen, wear long sleeves and a hat, and limit sun exposure.
- Write down your doctor’s name and phone number. Carry this information with you at all times.
- Write the names and amounts of the medicines you are taking. Carry this information with you at all times.
Acytokines Alter Mental Processes And Behavior
There is striking evidence that cytokines administered in large doses as part of cancer treatment and hepatitis-C treatment can cause disturbances of mental function that resemble psychiatric disorders. Cytokines such as IFN- and IL-2 have been found, depending on dosage, to cause major mental status changes in as many as two-thirds of patients receiving the treatments. The changes observed include delirium , disorientation, irritability, delusions, agitation, fatigue, anorexia, malaise, and depression. Many of these changes are also seen in response to infection, thereby supporting the role of immune activity in behavioral disturbance and psychopathological conditions.
Studies in healthy humans using immune-activating substances such as endotoxin derived from Gram-negative bacterial membrane or vaccination with typhoid antigen have shown effects on mood and cognition. With respect to memory, the findings have been mixed with some studies showing decrements in memory function while others have found no effect. The effect on mood has tended to be more consistent and in the direction of increasing confusion, fatigue, and tension. Moreover, neuroimaging studies have shown that individuals injected with immune-activating substances show increased activity in limbic regions of the brain in response to pictures of faces expressing specific emotions. A finding suggesting immune modulation of emotional responses.
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