Hiv And Hepatitis C Coinfection
HCV infection is common among people with HIV who also inject drugs. Nearly 75% of people living with HIV who report a history of injection drug use are co-infected with HCV. All people who are diagnosed with HIV are recommended to be tested for HCV at least once. People living with HIV are at greater risk for complications and death from HCV infection. Fortunately, direct acting antivirals that are used to treat HCV work equally well in people with and without HIV infection. For more information about HIV and HCV coinfection, visit the HIV.govs pages about hepatitis C and HIV coinfection.
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Cirrhosis Of The Liver
Cirrhosis happens when scar tissue permanently replaces the healthy tissue of your liver. Scar tissue affects the normal function of your liver and can eventually cause it to fail.
If you develop cirrhosis as a result of heavy alcohol use, alcoholic hepatitis can get worse. Cirrhosis can also raise your risk of liver cancer.
Hepatitis C And Injecting Drugs
If you inject drugs, avoid sharing needles, syringes or other equipment such as tourniquets, spoons, swabs or water.
Where possible, always use sterile needles and syringes. These are available free of charge from needle and syringe programs and some pharmacists. To find out where you can obtain free needles, syringes and other injecting equipment, contact DirectLine
Try to wash your hands before and after injecting. If you cant do this, use hand sanitiser or alcohol swabs from a needle and syringe program service.
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What Are The Complications Of Alcohol
Complications from alcohol-related liver disease usually occur after years of heavy drinking. These complications can be serious.
They may include liver related conditions that are a consequence of portal hypertension:
- build up of fluid in the abdomen
- bleeding from veins in the esophagus or stomach
- enlarged spleen
How Can You Prevent Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C
Hepatitis B: Vaccination is the best way to prevent all the ways that hepatitis B is transmitted. People with HIV who do not have active HBV infection should be vaccinated against it. The hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants, children and adults ages 19-59, as well as adults ages 60+ at high risk for infection. There is a 3-dose series of hepatitis B vaccine given over 6 months, and a 2-dose series given over 1 month. Additionally, there is a 2-dose combination vaccine that protects against both hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C: No vaccine exists for HCV and no effective pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis is available. Injection drug use is one of the risk factors for hepatitis C. For people who inject drugs, the best way to prevent hepatitis C infection is to always use new, sterile needles or syringes, and never reuse or share needles or syringes, water, or other drug preparation equipment. Community-based prevention programs, such as medication-assisted treatment and syringe services programs provide support and services aimed at preventing and reducing the transmission of HCV. Although the risk of sexual transmission of HCV is considered to be low, avoiding unprotected sexual exposure by using condoms has been shown to reduce the chance of sexually transmitted infections.
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What Drugs Treat And Cure Hepatitis C
The treatment of chronic hepatitis C has gone through several generations of medications. Not long ago, treatment was limited to interferon alpha-2b or pegylated interferon alpha-2b , and ribavirin . Interferon and pegylated interferon need to be injected under the skin , while ribavirin is taken by mouth. This combination therapy is infrequently used today, being recommended for only the least common genotypes of hepatitis C virus .
Since 2010, direct-acting antiviral drugs have been in use. The second generation of antivirals for HCV was the protease inhibitors telaprevir and boceprevir , both taken by mouth. These were used in combination with the earlier drugs to increase effectiveness . These drugs are also no longer in common use, and have been replaced by better options.
As more has been learned about how hepatitis C virus multiplies within the liver cells, new drugs continue to be developed to interfere with this multiplication at different stages. As such, we no longer think in terms of generations of drugs, but rather categories of action. Research and development of these direct-acting antivirals continue, with new agents coming to market every few months. Each category is improved and expanded by the addition of new drugs, which are safer and more effective.
Currently available and commonly used direct-acting antiviral drugs include:
People at increased risk for hepatitis A
- International travelers
Other people recommended for vaccination
Whats The Difference Between Acute And Chronic Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a contagious disease caused by HCV, which is spread through contact with blood and bodily fluids that contain HCV. This disease damages your liver. There are two types of hepatitis C infection: acute and chronic.
Acute hepatitis C is a short-term viral infection. People with acute hepatitis C carry the infection for a small window of time, often just several months . Most people with the acute form of hepatitis C will experience illness and mild symptoms such as fatigue and vomiting within the first six months after exposure. In many cases, the disease causes no symptoms at all.
Acute hepatitis C may improve or resolve without treatment. It leads to chronic infection in 75 to 85 percent of cases. The chronic form may cause long-term problems in your liver, including liver damage and liver cancer.
HCV is spread through direct contact with blood or certain bodily fluids that contain HCV. Its safe to engage in the following activities without worry of transmission:
If your doctor suspects that you have hepatitis C, they will draw blood to check for HCV antibodies. Antibodies are substances your body produces when its fighting an infection. If you have them, your doctor may order a second test to confirm that the virus is still present.
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Staying Healthy With Hepatitis
Not everyone needs treatment right away, but its important to be monitored regularly by an experienced doctor and discuss treatment options of the best way to keep you healthy.
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Eat a healthy & balanced diet. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits try to stay away from too much salt, sugar and fat.
- Exercise regularly. Walking is one of the best exercises, and it helps to make you feel less tired.
- Check with a health professional before taking any prescription pills, supplements, or over-the-counter medications.
- Do not share razors, nail clippers, needles or other items that come in contact with blood with other people.
How Is Hepatitis C Infection Prevented
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C. To reduce your risk of getting hepatitis C:
- Injection drug use is the most common way people get hepatitis C. Avoid injecting drugs to reduce your risk. If you do inject drugs, use sterile injection equipment. Avoid reusing or sharing.
- Avoid sharing personal care items that might have blood on them
- If you are a health care or public safety worker, follow universal blood/body fluid precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps
- Consider the risks if you are thinking about tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture are the instruments properly sterilized?
- If youre having sex with more than one partner, use latex condoms correctly and every time to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including hepatitis C.
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What If You Test Positive
If a test says you have viral hepatitis, you can take steps to protect the ones you love. For hepatitis A, wash hands frequently. For hepatitis B and C, avoid sharing nail clippers, razors, or toothbrushes. Hepatitis B, and sometimes hepatitis C, can be passed through sexual contact. Make sure everyone in your household gets the hepatitis B vaccine. An important step is to see a specialist to discuss treatment options.
How Can Hepatitis C Affect My Child In The Long Term
Children with hepatitis C can lead completely normal lives, attend school, and play sports without any special arrangements.
If left untreated or if treatment fails, chronic hepatitis C can last for decades. During that time, it can progressively damage the liver and lead to such complications as cirrhosis and liver cancer. When they become older, children with hepatitis C should avoid drinking alcohol, as it can make the disease progress more quickly.
If the liver begins to fail because of the hepatitis and its complications, your child may need a liver transplant. While hepatitis C is one of the most common reasons for an adult to receive a liver transplant, it is not a common reason among children.
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What Is The Prognosis For Someone Who Has Hepatitis C
You can continue to lead an active life even if you are diagnosed with hepatitis C. People with the disease can work and continue their regular daily activities. However, it is very important that you see a specialist as soon as you are diagnosed with hepatitis C. There are many treatments available that can cure the virus.
To maintain a healthy lifestyle, patients should:
How Many People Have Hepatitis C
During 2013-2016 it was estimated that about two and half million people were chronically infected with HCV in the United States. The actual number may be as low as 2.0 million or as high as 2.8 million.Globally, hepatitis C is a common blood-borne infection with an estimated 58 million people chronically infected according to the World Health Organization.
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How Does Hepatitis C Get Transmitted Via The Blood
You can contract hepatitis C if your blood comes into contact with the blood of someone who has the virus. This contact allows the virus to enter your bloodstream.
The virus, once in your body, will target your liver and may cause symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, fatigue, lack of appetite, and stomach pain. However, you may not notice symptoms right away. Hepatitis C is diagnosed with a blood test and can be treated.
Hepatitis C can be transmitted through:
- unsterilized piercing or tattooing equipment
- childbirth, if the birthing parent has hepatitis C
- sexual contact involving exchange of blood
- medical procedures involving blood transfusions that took place before 1992
- needle-stick injuries in a healthcare setting
In these instances, traces of blood carrying the hepatitis C virus can enter the bloodstream.
Medical establishments in the United States take extra precautions to reduce the chances of hepatitis C transmission, such as testing blood before using it for transfusions and sterilizing all reusable medical supplies.
You can take precautions by avoiding sharing needles, sterilizing any shared equipment, and using barrier methods when engaging in sexual contact.
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Hepatitis And Pancreatitis Caused By Alcoholic Abuse
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Liver and pancreas are vital organs in the digestive system. The abnormalities of liver and pancreas are usually susceptible to develop further serious diseases due to their complicated structures and functions. Disorders of the liver and pancreas can range from mildly troublesome to intensely painful. It might start from acute to chronic inflammation and infection, benign hepatic or pancreatic tumor and hepatic cysts as well as liver and pancreatic cancers.
It is widely acknowledged that alcohol abuse or alcoholism is one of the major contributing factors to develop acute and chronic inflammation of both liver and pancreas. Fatal conditions caused by alcoholic abuse include a severely liver inflammation, acute liver failure or/and cirrhosis presented with liver cancer. Besides serious conditions of liver and pancreas, other bodys systems are substantially impacted including digestive system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, kidney, blood circulation and coagulation process as well as impaired immune system which subsequently leads to severe infection and sepsis. These health conditions largely disrupt the quality of life, both physically and mentally. Early diagnosis and timely treatment result in decreased disease severity and reduced mortality rates.
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Getting Tested Is The Only Way To Know If You Have Hepatitis C
A blood test called a hepatitis C antibody test can tell if you have been infected with the hepatitis C viruseither recently or in the past. If you have a positive antibody test, another blood test is needed to tell if you are still infected or if you were infected in the past and cleared the virus on your own.
- Are 18 years of age and older
- Currently inject drugs
- Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Are on hemodialysis
What Is The Health Outlook For Someone With Hepatitis C
Thanks to DAAT therapy, the outlook for someone with hepatitis C is excellent. DAAT therapy cures 95% of people with hepatitis C. Even those who already have liver disease can have improved liver function after treatment. For those with advanced liver disease, DAAT treatment can lower the risk of getting liver cancer.
DAAT treatment is also available for children 3 years and older who have hepatitis C. For children younger than 3, a liver specialist will help determine when treatment should start.
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Keep Personal Items Personal
Any tools or implements that may have a bit of blood on them from infected people are potential sources of hepatitis B or C transmission. Toothbrushes, nail clippers, razors, needles, and washcloths may all contain trace amounts of blood that can transmit infection. Keep personal items such as these to yourself and never use personal items that belong to others.
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.
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What Happens With Hepatitis B
A majority of adults who contract hepatitis B have none to mild symptoms, and then the virus resolves spontaneously however, about 5% of people are not able to eliminate the hepatitis B virus and develop chronic infection. If a chronically infected mother gives birth, 90% of the time her infant will be infected and develop chronic hepatitis B, usually for life. This may give rise to serious complications of liver disease later in life such as liver damage, liver failure, and liver cancer.
What To Think About
Researchers are working to develop other treatments, including gene therapy and medicines that help control the immune system.
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Treatment For Hepatitis C
Treatments for hepatitis C have improved a lot in recent years and can result in you permanently clearing the virus. These newer medicines usually have very few side effects.
Once you are diagnosed with hepatitis C it is important to get a prompt referral to a specialist who can offer treatment . They can assess the type of virus , and your current liver health. This information will help them establish if you should start treatment and, if so, the best treatment course for you.
Clearing the hepatis C infection does not mean you are immune this means you should take precautions to minimise the risk of becoming re-infected.
How Does Hepatitis C Spread
Hepatitis C is spread only through exposure to an infected persons blood.
High-risk activities include:
- Sharing drug use equipment. Anything involved with injecting street drugs, from syringes, to needles, to tourniquets, can have small amounts of blood on it that can transmit hepatitis C. Pipes and straws to smoke or snort drugs can have blood on them from cracked lips or nosebleeds. Get into a treatment program if you can. At the very least, dont share needles or equipment with anyone else.
- Sharing tattoo or piercing tools. Nonsterile items and ink can spread contaminated blood.
- Blood transfusions in countries that donât screen blood for hepatitis C.
- Nonsterile medical equipment. Tools that arenât cleaned properly between use can spread the virus.
- Blood or cutting rituals. Sharing the tools or exchanging blood can transmit hepatitis C.
Medium-risk activities include:
- People with elevated ALT levels
- Infants born to HBV-infected mothers
CDC recommends hepatitis C testing for:
- All adults aged 18 years and older
- All pregnant women during each pregnancy
- About 24,900 new infections each year
- About 22,600 new infections in 2018
- Estimated 862,000 people living with hepatitis B
- About 50,300 new infections in 2018
- Estimated 2.4 million people living with hepatitis C
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Getting Tested For Hepatitis C
A blood test, called an HCV antibody test, is used to find out if someone has ever been infected with the hepatitis C virus. The HCV antibody test, sometimes called the anti-HCV test, looks for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus in blood. Antibodies are chemicals released into the bloodstream when someone gets infected.
Test results can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to come back. Rapid anti-HCV tests are available in some health clinics and the results of these tests are available in 20 to 30 minutes.