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.
Will Treatment Make Me More Likely To Overdose
Some hepatitis C treatment can change the effects of the drugs you use, which can contribute to an overdose. If you use drugs after you start hepatitis C treatment, start slowly and use with someone you trust.
Naloxone helps reverse an opiate overdose and can save someones life. If naloxone is available and you want to learn how to use it, talk to a harm reduction worker about how to get training.
Hepatitis C Symptoms & Treatment
Hepatitis C is found in infected blood. It is also rarely found in semen and vaginal fluids.
Hepatitis C is mainly passed on through using contaminated needles and syringes or sharing other items with infected blood on them. It can also be passed on through unprotected sex, especially when blood is present.
You can prevent hepatitis C by never sharing needles and syringes, practising safer sex, and avoiding unlicensed tattoo parlours and acupuncturists.
Hepatitis C will often not have any noticeable symptoms, but a simple blood test carried out by a healthcare professional will show whether you have hepatitis C.
In the early stages, some peoples bodies can clear a hepatitis C infection on their own, others may develop chronic hepatitis C and will need to take antiviral treatment to cure the infection.
Without treatment, chronic hepatitis C can lead to permanent liver damage.
Hepatitis C is part of a group of hepatitis viruses that attack the liver.
Its mainly passed on through contaminated needles, either from injecting drugs or from needle stick injuries in healthcare settings. It can also be transmitted sexually, especially during anal sex or other types of sex that may involve blood.
Some groups are more at risk of getting hepatitis C than others, including people who use drugs, people in prisons, men who have sex with men, health workers and people living with HIV.
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What To Do If You Live With Someone Who Has Hepatitis C
If you live with someone who has hepatitis C, theres no reason to avoid close personal contact. Feel free to touch, kiss, and cuddle.
The most important thing you can do to prevent getting the virus is to avoid contact with the infected persons blood. Blood can be infectious even when its dry. In fact, the virus can live in blood on surfaces for up to three weeks.
Thats why you should take great care when cleaning up blood spills, however small or old they are.
Here are a few tips for dealing with blood:
- If you see blood, assume its infectious.
- If you have to clean or touch a blood spill, wear disposable gloves. Inspect the gloves for tears and holes before using them.
- Mop up using paper towels or disposable rags.
- Disinfect the area with a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
- When finished, dispose of the rags or paper towels in a plastic bag. Remove the gloves carefully and dispose of them as well.
- Wear gloves if you have to touch used bandages or menstrual products that werent disposed of properly.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with blood, even if you wore gloves.
Some personal care items can sometimes contain a small amount of blood. Dont share things like a toothbrush, razor, or manicure scissors.
If you think you may have been exposed to the virus, contact your doctor to find out when you can be tested. Early treatment can help prevent serious liver damage.
Who Is At Risk For Hepatitis C
You are more likely to get hepatitis C if you
- Have injected drugs
If you have chronic hepatitis C, you probably will not have symptoms until it causes complications. This can happen decades after you were infected. For this reason, hepatitis C screening is important, even if you have no symptoms.
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Do You Have Hepatitis C Do You Use Drugs
If you answered yes, this booklet is for you.
Lots of people have hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is passed through blood-to-blood contact. A common way to get hepatitis C is through sharing equipment for using drugs.
This includes sharing needles, syringes, filters, washes, water and cookers used for preparing or injecting drugs, pipes or stems and mouthpieces for smoking drugs, and rolled paper or straws for snorting drugs.
Who Is Most At Risk Of Contracting Hepatitis C
You have a high risk of contracting hepatitis C if you:
- use or have used injection drugs even if it was just once or many years ago
- have received blood or blood products or an organ transplant before July 1990 in Canada
- have been in jail or
- have been injected or scratched during vaccination, surgery, blood transfusion or a religious/ceremonial ritual in regions where hepatitis C is common.
You have a high moderate risk of contracting hepatitis C if you:
- have tattoos or body piercing
- have multiple sexual partners
- have a sexually transmitted infection , including HIV or lymphogranuloma venereum
- have experienced traumatic sex or rough sex or have used sex toys or fisting that can tear body tissue
- have vaginal sex during menstruation
- have received a kidney treatment
- have received an accidental injury from a needle or syringe
- have another infectious disease
- were born to a hepatitis C infected mother or
- have a sexual partner infected with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is NOT passed from person to person by:
- coughing, sneezing
- breastfeeding unless your nipples are cracked and bleeding or
- oral sex, unless blood is present.
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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.
Dont Take Other Medications Unless Youve Talked To Your Doctor First
Many drugs can interfere with your hepatitis C medications, so its important to tell your doctor exactly what youre taking or thinking about adding to your regimen, says James J. Lee, MD, a gastroenterologist and medical director at the James J. Lee, MD Center of Excellence for Digestive Health in Orange, California. This includes medicines used for acid reflux, an enlarged prostate, birth control, high cholesterol, and seizures.
Whats more, some drugs can be hard on your liver, including over-the-counter pills such as acetaminophen. If you need treatment for more than one health condition, work closely with your doctors, including your primary care physician and your gastroenterologist or hepatologist, to determine the best methods.
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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 Does It Mean When Different Types Of Blood Tests For Hepatitis C Give Different Results
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?
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Needle Use Or Accidental Stick
You can get hepatitis C from:
- Sharing needles and other equipment used to inject drugs.
- Having your ears or another body part pierced, getting a tattoo, or having acupuncture with needles that have not been sterilized properly. The risk of getting hepatitis C in these ways is very low.
- Working in a health care environment where you are exposed to fresh blood or where you may be pricked with a used needle. Following standard precautions for health care workers makes this risk very low.
If You Notice Symptoms See A Doctor Right Away
Symptoms of hepatitis C include the following:
- Jaundice a yellowish tone to the eyes and skin
- Mild, chronic right belly pain
- Loss of appetite
If you believe you have been exposed to hepatitis C or notice any symptoms, visit your primary care doctor as soon as possible. If you test positive for the virus, your doctor can refer you to a hepatologist to discuss your options.
“I strongly encourage all baby boomers and others who are at high risk to get tested, even if you don’t look or feel sick,” Reau says. “If you do have hepatitis C, the earlier we discover it, the more likely we can prevent it from progressing and causing more serious damage.”
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Baby Boomers Are Especially Vulnerable
“The hepatitis C virus didn’t have a name or a screening test until in 1989,” Reau says. “That means people born between 1945 and 1965, the group referred to as ‘baby boomers,’ are at highest risk of infection. They grew up before health care facilities started taking standard precautions, like not sharing vials of medicine among patients and requiring staff to wear gloves.”
The CDC reports that baby boomers are five times more likely to have Hepatitis C than other adults, accounting for 75% of those living with the disease.
These are some other reasons you may be at risk:
- You have engaged in high-risk behaviors like IV drug use or unprotected sex
- Your biological mother has/had hepatitis C
- You received blood transfusions, an organ transplant or dialysis before 1989
- You were or are currently incarcerated
How Common Is Hepatitis Co
About 2.7 million people living in the United States have chronic hepatitis C, while some 1.2 million have hepatitis B, according to the CDC. Far fewer have both infections. An found that only about 1.4 percent of U.S. veterans who had hepatitis C were also infected with hepatitis B.
The main reason that people may develop both infections, Dr. Alqahtani says, is that they can be transmitted in similar ways. Since these viruses share similar methods of transmission, co-infection can become more common, he points out. That includes exposure to contaminated blood.
Both hepatitis B and C can be spread through blood transfusions or injections during medical procedures, according to the World Health Organization , if blood has not been effectively screened. Sharing needles is a common method of transmitting hepatitis C in the United States, but its also a method for transmitting hepatitis B, says Alqahtani. In addition to blood, hepatitis B can be spread through other body fluids like semen.
You are at a higher risk of having a hepatitis C infection if you are in any of the following groups listed by the CDC:
- Injection drug user
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How Effective Is Treatment
Direct acting antivirals cure 9 out of 10 patients with hepatitis C.
Successful treatment does not give you any protection against another hepatitis C infection. You can still catch it again.
There’s no vaccine for hepatitis C.
If treatment does not work, it may be repeated, extended, or a different combination of medicines may be tried.
Your doctor or nurse will be able to advise you.
What Is Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a liver infection that can lead to serious liver damage. Itâs caused by the hepatitis C virus. About 2.4 million people in the U.S. have the disease. But it causes few symptoms, so most of them don’t know. The virus spreads through an infected personâs blood or body fluids.
There are many forms of the hepatitis C virus, or HCV. The most common in the U.S. is type 1. None is more serious than any other, but they respond differently to treatment.
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Treatment And Medication For Hepatitis C
If you have acute hepatitis C, there is no recommended treatment. If your hepatitis C turns into a chronic hepatitis C infection, there are several medications available.
Interferon, peginterferon, and ribavirin used to be the main treatments for hepatitis C. They can have side effects like fatigue, flu-like symptoms, anemia, skin rash, mild anxiety, depression, nausea, and diarrhea.
Now youâre more likely to get one of these medications:
Find out more on treatment options for hepatitis C.
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 To Know If You Have Hep C
When youre diagnosed with hepatitis C, your doctor might bring up NAFLD and ways to reduce your risk, Dr. Fox says. If they dont, its a good idea to bring it up with them yourself. If patients can avoid developing fatty liver disease, theyre going to benefit their hepatitis C in terms of limiting damage to the liver, Dr. Fox says.
If you do have NAFLD along with hep C, treating both conditions will help lessen the toll on your liver and overall health in the long run. The damage can go on for decades and patients could be unaware that they have fatty liver disease unless their clinician is looking for it, Dr. Fox says. Its worth knowing about because you may be able to make some modifications to avoid liver damage that might otherwise go on.
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.
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