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 it’s 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.
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.
S To Take After A Positive Hepatitis C Test Result
When you receive a false-positive result, you may be unsure whether its a true false positive. Talk with your doctor about getting a second test, such as an RNA test, to confirm whether you have an infection.
If your RNA test result is negative, you dont have a current HCV infection. In this scenario, no further steps need to be taken. If your RNA test result is positive, your doctor will advise you on treatment options and how to move forward.
Keep in mind that false-negative results may happen, too. This often occurs in people who are in the early stages of infection and havent yet built up detectable antibodies.
People with suppressed immune systems may also get a false negative because their immune systems arent working effectively enough to respond to the test.
If you get a positive result on an anti-HCV test, its possible that its incorrect. A doctor will typically give you a second test to confirm the results.
Treatment can keep the infection under control, so talk with a medical professional about the next steps.
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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
What Are Your Hepatitis C Risks
The hepatitis C virus is the most common cause of chronic viral liver disease in the United States. It is estimated that 1.8% of the U.S. population or about 4 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C. Infection is most prevalent among those born between 19451965, the majority of whom were likely infected during the 1970s and 1980s when rates were highest. The CDC estimates that there are 30,000 new acute cases of hepatitis C each year. Learn more
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What Is Hepatitis C And How Common Is It In The United States
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. There are a handful of viral hepatitis types , but hepatitis C is the cause of the majority of serious liver disease in the United States. The hepatitis C virus is spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone whos not infected. There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C, which makes early detection so important.
In the United States, its estimated that between 3 and 5 million people have chronic hepatitis C, and most of those people dont know theyre infected. The majority of people with chronic hepatitis C are from the baby boom generation.
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All Adults Pregnant Women And People With Risk Factors Should Get Tested For Hepatitis C
Most people who get infected with hepatitis C virus develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Left untreated, chronic hepatitis C can cause serious health problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and even death. People can live without symptoms or feeling sick, so testing is the only way to know if you have hepatitis C. Getting tested is important to find out if you are infected so you can get lifesaving treatment that can cure hepatitis C.
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Can I Take The Test At Home
You have options for hepatitis C screening, and that includes at-home testing where you can collect a blood sample by a finger prick and send your specimen to a lab. Not all types of HCV testing can be performed at home, and these tests do not screen for hepatitis C RNA or the strains genotype.
The benefit of an at-home test is that it can expose a past or active infection, though it will not reveal which. Its a great way to initially test for HCV before advancing to lab testing. Positive results should be confirmed by a health professional through lab testing.
Early Treatment Can Help You Prevent Liver Cancer Or Liver Failure
According to the CDC, out of every 100 people with hepatitis C:
- More than half will develop chronic liver disease.
- About 5 to 25 will get cirrhosis, a dangerous scarring of the liver.
- 1-5 will die from liver cancer or liver failure.
Getting tested and treated early can stop the hepatitis C virus from triggering cirrhosis or cancer. Your doctor will be able to keep an eye out for signs of liver trouble. They can start treatment before you serious damage starts.
CDC: Hepatitis C FAQs for Health Professionals,Hepatitis C Fact Sheet,Hepatitis C: What to Expect When Getting Tested,Living with Chronic Hepatitis C.
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Who Should Get Tested For Hepatitis C
The CDC recommends that you get tested at least once no matter what. Definitely get screened if any of these things apply to you:
- You were born between 1945 and 1965.
- You use or inject drugs.
- You have ever injected drugs even if it was just once or a long time ago.
- You have abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels .
- You had a blood transfusion, blood components, or an organ transplant before July 1992.
- Youâve ever gotten clotting factor concentrates made before 1987.
- You received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C virus.
- Youâre a health care worker, first responder, or have another job that exposes you to HCV-infected needles.
- You were born to a mother with HCV.
How Hepatitis C Is Diagnosed
To determine a hepatitis C diagnosis, your doctor will:
- Get your medical history .
- Perform a physical exam, especially checking for changes in skin color, swelling in your lower extremities, and tenderness in your abdomen.
- Order certain diagnostic blood tests.
The first diagnostic tool in the screening process is a blood test that screens for HCV antibodies proteins the body produces in response to the virus. An enzyme immunoassay is used to perform this test.
A negative result for the antibody test means that youve never had HCV in your blood, while a positive result means you were exposed to the virus at some point in your life. Up to a quarter of people spontaneously clear the virus from their blood within six months of contracting it.
Because EIA sometimes produces false-positive results, a test called recombinant immunoblot assay may be used to confirm that you have the HCV antibody. This test is not necessary for most patients, and it is more commonly performed by blood banks to check for the virus in donated blood.
A negative EIA result may just mean that your body has not yet produced the HCV antibody , and you may need to be tested again in a few months.
If you have a positive antibody test, your doctor will then use another blood sample to conduct a qualitative polymerase chain reaction test or a process called transcription-mediated amplification , which looks for the presence or absence of RNA of HCV in your blood.
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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.
What Will My Doctor Need To Know To Treat Me
If you want to be assessed for treatment, you need to make an appointment with a doctor. They will be mostly interested in the condition of your liver. Your doctor will organise, if possible, for you to have a Fibroscan examination. If Fibroscan is not available, your doctor will probably use an APRI test. This is an online calculator that estimates the health of your liver. It involves a blood test called a liver function test.
Dont forget, its very important to get a PCR test 12 weeks after finishing treatment this will mean the doctor can make sure you are cured.
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Hepatitis C And Blood Spills
When cleaning and removing blood spills, use standard infection control precautions at all times:
- Cover any cuts or wounds with a waterproof dressing.
- Wear single-use gloves and use paper towel to mop up blood spills.
- Clean the area with warm water and detergent, then rinse and dry.
- Place used gloves and paper towels into a plastic bag, then seal and dispose of them in a rubbish bin.
- Wash your hands in warm, soapy water then dry them thoroughly.
- Put bloodstained tissues, sanitary towels or dressings in a plastic bag before throwing them away.
Preventing The Spread Of Hepatitis C
There is no vaccine available to prevent a person from being infected with hepatitis C. Recommended behaviours to prevent the spread of the virus include:
- Always use sterile injecting equipment. This can be accessed from your local needle and syringe program service.
- Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, nail files or nail scissors, which can draw blood.
- If you are involved in body piercing, tattooing, electrolysis or acupuncture, always ensure that any instrument that pierces the skin is either single use or has been cleaned, disinfected and sterilised since it was last used.
- If you are a healthcare worker, follow standard precautions at all times.
- Wherever possible, wear single-use gloves if you give someone first aid or clean up blood or body fluids.
- Although hepatitis C is not generally considered to be a sexually transmissible infection in Australia, you may wish to consider safe sex practices if blood is going to be present, or if your partner has HIV infection. You may wish to further discuss this issue and personal risks with your doctor.
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Search Strategy And Identification Of Studies
Search strategies were developed by a medical librarian with expertise in designing systematic review searches. Our search algorithm consisted of the following components: hepatitis C, diagnostic tests, and diagnostic accuracy. We searched MEDLINE , EMBASE , the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials , Science Citation Index Expanded , Conference Proceedings Citation Index-Science , SCOPUS , Literatura Latino-Americana e do Caribe em Ciências da Saúde and WHO Global Index Medicus. The search was supplemented by searching for ongoing studies in WHOs International Clinical Trials Registry. The literature search was limited to English language and human subjects that available until April 30th, 2015. In addition to searching databases, we contacted individual researchers and authors of major trials to address whether any relevant manuscripts are in preparation or in press. The references of published articles found in the above databases were searched for additional pertinent materials.
Study selection proceeded in three stages: 1) titles/abstracts were screened by a single reviewer according to standard inclusion and exclusion criteria 2) full manuscripts were obtained and evaluated by two independent reviewers to include or not 3) two independent reviewers extracted all data. Differences were resolved by a third independent reviewer.
Are Test Results Accurate
Although no test is perfect, hepatitis C testing is an important and accepted method of testing for HCV. In order to reduce the risk of inaccurate results, doctors take steps to verify a patients diagnosis. For example, a positive test result for hepatitis C antibody requires confirmation with HCV RNA testing.
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Molecular Hcv Rna Tests
Molecular diagnostic tests for hepatitis C specifically detect HCV RNA and the process is commonly referred to as a Nucleic Acid Test or Nucleic Acid Amplification Test . The HCV NAT becomes positive approximately 1 to 2 weeks after initial HCV infection. The NAT test has become the gold standard supplemental test for patients who have a positive HCV EIA screening test. The NAT can determine whether a patient with a positive HCV antibody test has current or resolved HCV infection. In addition, the NAT can be used in combination with other laboratory studies, such as prior antibody test results or hepatic aminotransferase levels, to suggest the possibility of acute HCV infection. The results for the commercially available quantitative HCV RNA assays, which were previously reported as copies/mL, are now given in International Units /mL.
Appropriate Uses Of The Hcv Rna Test
There are 4 major reasons that HCV RNA tests are used:
More rarely, HCV RNA is used when either very acute HCV infection is suspected or a false HCV Ab is suspected.
It would not be appropriate to repeatedly order HCV RNA viral load screening for a patient who is not on or was recently on HCV treatment, or to use the HCV viral load to determine the severity of the patient’s infection or the patient’s risk of developing significant liver disease.
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How Do Doctors Treat The Complications Of Hepatitis C
If hepatitis C leads to cirrhosis, you should see a doctor who specializes in liver diseases. Doctors can treat the health problems related to cirrhosis with medicines, surgery, and other medical procedures. If you have cirrhosis, you have an increased chance of liver cancer. Your doctor may order an ultrasound test to check for liver cancer.
If hepatitis C leads to liver failure or liver cancer, you may need a liver transplant.
How Can I Make A Difference For People With Hepatitis C
Anyone can help raise awareness about this widespread disease. Citizens can write letters to their state representatives or local newspapers and get involved in volunteer efforts with liver disease or Veteran-affiliated organizations . Speaking at support groups and sharing your experience is also a good way to help others with HCV.
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What Is The Treatment For Chronic Hepatitis C
Since 2013,there have been numerous new therapies for HCV approved by the FDA. More information can be learned about these new therapies by viewing the following videos produced by Liver Specialists of Texas and Dr. Galati. Curently, medical therapies will allow a better than 95% cure rate with 8-12 weeks of therapy.
Hepatitis C Viral Load / Hcv Rna Quantitative Testing
The viral load of hepatitis C refers to the amount of virus present in the bloodstream. The quantitative HCV RNA tests measure the amount of hepatitis C virus in the blood. The result will be an exact number, such as 1,215,422 IU/L. Many people refer to the quantitative measurement as the hepatitis C viral load.
Viral load tests are used to confirm active hepatitis C infection and are used during treatment to help determine response. If you have lower levels of virus in your blood when you start treatment, you may have a better chance of getting rid of the virus.
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