Hepatitis C (HCV)

Menstuff® has compiled information about Hepatitis C.

What is hepatitis C?
How common is hepatitis C?
How can I get hepatitis C?
What are the signs or symptoms of hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C — Without Symptoms?
How can I find out if I have hepatitis C?
What can I do to reduce my risk of getting hepatitis C?
What is the treatment for hepatitis C?
Why worry about hepatitis C?
Do I need to talk to my partner about hepatitis C?
Should I talk to my health care provider about hepatitis C?
Where can I get more information?
Tattoos & Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C - The Stealth Virus
Hepatitis C on Toothbrushes?
Your or Someone You Know has Hepatitis C
Why a 12-Step program for HCV?

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What is hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is a serious viral disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus. In some people it may cause:

How common is hepatitis C?

It is estimated that around 4 million Americans have been infected with hepatitis C, of whom 2.7 million have chronic infections. Each year, it is estimated that there are 36,000 new infections in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those new infections, only 25 to 30 percent will have symptoms. That means many people will become infected with hepatitis C and not know it right away.

How can I get hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted through blood or blood products.

The most common ways are:

Neonatal transmission may occur at birth if the mother is infected.

The rate of infection is the same regardless of method of delivery (Caesarean section or vaginal).

There are no recommendations to avoid pregnancy or breast-feeding if infected with HCV.

Transmission of HCV infection through breast milk has not been documented.

What are the signs or symptoms of hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is serious for some people, but not for others.

Most people who get hepatitis C carry the virus for the rest of their lives (a chronic infection).

Many people have mild to moderate liver damage, but do not feel sick from the infection.

The symptoms for an acute infection (newly acquired) and a chronic (persistent) infection are different.

Acute hepatitis C symptoms:

Chronic hepatitis C symptoms:

Most people with chronic HCV will have only mild to moderate liver disease. Symptoms of this may include:

Some people with chronic HCV will develop cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver.

Some people will need a liver transplant as a result of chronic HCV infection.

How can I find out if I have hepatitis C?

There are several blood tests that can be done to determine if a person has HCV.

Talk to your health care provider if you think you may have been exposed or infected with HCV.

Your health care provider may decide to order one test or a combination of tests to diagnose HCV.

Your sex partner(s) may need to be tested too.

People with HCV should be evaluated for presence and severity of chronic liver disease and possible treatment. Talk to your health care providers for specific recommendations. The degree of liver damage may be determined by:

None of the available tests to detect hepatitis C virus or antibody can differentiate (tell the difference) between acute or chronic infections.

Testing is recommended for:

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting hepatitis C?

If you know you have hepatitis C:

Unlike hepatitis B, available data indicates that an immune globulin injection is not effective after exposure to someone infected with hepatitis C.

What is the treatment for hepatitis C?

Treatment may differ depending on the stage of illness at the time treatment is sought. Your health care provider can help you make the best decisions about your treatment based upon your individual health needs.

Acute (newly acquired):

Chronic (persistent): Treatment options for people with chronic HCV and/or liver damage include:

Your health care professional may know of emerging therapies in the clinical trial stage for which you may be a candidate. Discuss these possibilities with your health care provider and let them help you make the best healthcare choices for you.

Why worry about hepatitis C?

The majority of people with hepatitis C have some sort of mild or moderate liver damage. Some have such damage that they have cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer or need a liver transplant because of hepatitis C.

Many people with hepatitis C do not know they have it.

Complications from hepatitis C cause 8,000 to 10,000 deaths per year.

Do I need to talk to my partner about hepatitis C?

Good partner communication is important in a relationship. While HCV is not primarily spread through sexual contact it is spread by sharing drug needles and works with others.

If you or your partner use street drugs or any illegal drug requiring shooting with a needle, you could be a risk of getting hepatitis C.

Use latex condoms the right way from start to finish for vaginal, oral and anal sex to help prevent other sexually transmitted diseases.

Limit your number of sex partners.

Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.

Should I talk to my health care provider about hepatitis C?

Yes, if you have:

If you have hepatitis C you can protect your liver by:

Where can I get more information?

If you have additional questions about hepatitis C, call the National STD and AIDS Hotlines at 1-800-342-2437 or 1-800-227-8922. The hotlines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For information in Spanish call 1-800-344-7432, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time, seven days a week. For the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing call 1-800-243-7889, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. The hotlines provide referrals and more answers to your questions. www.ashastd.org/stdfaqs/hepc.html

Tattoos & Hepatitis C

Getting a tattoo may not seem dangerous, but many tattoo recipients are now getting more than they bargained for.

Fine-art tattooing has become a common practice, particularly among teenagers and young adults. Sociological studies of tattoo recipients, however, have shown that few recipients compare tattoo parlors or watch a tattooing procedure before getting one, and few consider tattooing a future health risk.

Tattooing has been shown to transmit infectious diseases, including hepatitis B and C, syphilis, leprosy and tuberculosis. Small outbreaks of hepatitis have been identified in customers visiting certain commercial tattoo parlors on the same day.

A new study shows the risk of contracting hepatitis C increases significantly among people who have tattoos. Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas studied more than 600 patients. The patients were from the orthopedic spinal clinic, a setting that provided a large volume of patients seeing a physician for reasons unrelated to blood-borne infection. Participants unaware of their hepatitis status were examined, interviewed for risk factors and tested for hepatitis C. They found 18% of these patients had a tattoo. Of those patients with a tattoo, Men Talk more than 20% were infected with hepatitis C and 33% of those patients had acquired their tattoos in a commercial tattoo parlor. Few of the tattoo-associated infections could be traced to injection-drug use, transfusions or other known routes of exposure. Only 3.5% of patients with no tattoos had hepatitis C.

Researchers also found those patients who had several tattoos had an increased risk of having the potentially fatal disease. Hepatitis C attacks the liver and can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Risk factors for the disease can include injection-drug use, prior blood transfusions, acupuncture and electrolysis. Hepatitis C can be passed through tattooing by reusing needles or dye and insufficient sterilization of needles between customers. (It's almost impossible to sterilize the gun.)

Of the study, Robert Haley, M.D., and chief of epidemiology says, "We found that commercially acquired tattoos accounted for more than twice as many hepatitis C infections as injection-drug use. This means that it may have been the largest single contributor to the nationwide epidemic of this form of hepatitis."

 Few states have hygienic regulations to ensure safe tattooing practices in commercial tattoo parlors, and even fewer monitor and enforce standards.

Patients for the study were interviewed and tested in 1991 and 1992. The results were not published then because other epidemiological studies at the time were expected to address the issue, but they did not. This was the last study done before widespread hepatitis C testing began, when a largely unbiased study could still be done.

Hepatitis C - The Stealth Virus

Three to 4 million Americans may be carrying a postcard from their past and not even know it. Tracking the quiet rise of hepatitis C, a stealth virus that can incubate for decades - sometimes the result of IV drug use or an unlucky transfusion (or from a simple tattoo from the cleanest parlor in the world), and then strike without warning. By 2010 it may strike down more Americans each year than AIDS.

The Hepatitis C virus can infect people for long periods without causing obvious symptoms, but prolonged inflammation eventually damages the liver. Deaths from the disease could triple as old infections reach clinical stages.

The current infected population is Hemophilia patients and IV drug users with dialysis patients, transfusion recipients and the general population making up the rest.

You should be tested if you have been an IV drug user, was a blood recipient before 1992, was born to an infected mother or have been an exposed healthcare worker. People with multiple sex partners or people with an infected steady partner need not be tested.

Twice as many men have been infected with the main group between 20 and 50. The mortality rate is expected to increase from the current 15,000 to over 19,000 by 2010. About 36,000 more become infected each year.

Of those initially infected, 15% mount a successful immune response and clear the virus from their bodies within the first year. The remainder retain the virus, becoming chronic carriers. 80% of the carriers suffer chronic liver inflammation and minor scarring of the organ. 20% develop cirrhosis of the liver within 20 years. Healthy cells are replaced by scar tissue that can keep the organ from functioning properly. 75% of those who develop cirrhosis suffer no serious effects from the scarring in their livers. 25% develop end stage liver disease, which can involve cancer, require a transplant and result in death.

Doctors say people with any of the risk factors for hepatitis C, including tattoos, should consider having a blood test, because treatments are now available to eradicate the virus in many before it causes permanent liver damage or cancer.
Source: Newsweek, 4/22/02.

Hepatitis C on Toothbrushes?

Researchers have said that hepatitis C could possibly be transmitted by common household items, such as toothbrushes. A team from the University of Regensburg, in Germany examined 30 patients with hepatitis C to see whether they had contaminated their toothbrushes with the virus. They collected saliva samples from infected patients both before and after they brushed their teeth. Figures show that 30 per cent of the infected patients tested positive for traces of the virus in their saliva before brushing their teeth, while 38 per cent tested positive in their saliva after brushing. About 40 per cent of the rinsing water used for the toothbrushes tested positive for the virus.

Your or Someone You Know has Hepatitis C

In the United States, almost every person knows someone with HCV. It is suspected that there are, at present, more than 5 million people in the United States who are infected with Hepatitis C, and perhaps as many as 200 million around the world.

This makes HCV one of the greatest public health threats faced in this century. Without rapid intervention to contain the spread of the disease, the death rate from hepatitis C will surpass that from AIDS in the next few years and will only get worse.

Why a 12-Step program for HCV?

There are many people with hepatitis C whose emotions and behavior are destroying them; this behavior is putting an unnecessary burden on many of their loved ones. They may have drinking, smoking, eating, fitness, psychological, and sexual issues that need to be addressed. They may have unresolved issues regarding treatment. Others may need to "come to believe that a power greater than themselves exists." They do not believe in God or a Higher Power, or their relationship with their Higher Power is faltering.

There are other people who need to learn how to assess all facets of their health (clean house), trust their Higher Power, and unload the guilt, shame, and depression that is holding them in bondage (whether they are aware of it or not).

There are others who have by now transformed the stumbling block of HCV into a steppingstone. They have learned how to live happy, healthy, and normal lives. Here, they can use their experience, strength, and hope to help others.

It has been proven that 12-Step programs work. There are over 300 different 12-Step programs. HCV Anonymous Positive Attitudes is tailored to meet the needs of everyone infected with or affected by HCV.

This manuscript uses a “Higher Power of your understanding” approach. This non-religious approach hosts everyone regardless of race, creed, religion or lack of religion, or sexual orientation. Our program offers guidelines for a variety of meeting formats.
Source: HCV Anonymous.com or info@hcvanonymous.com


Hepatitis C Treatment Said Improved

Drug users, children and AIDS patients should not be excluded from treatment for hepatitis C, a blood-borne virus that has infected an estimated 4 million Americans and is a leading cause of liver cancer, a federal advisory panel says.
Source: www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/333/8013/351178.html

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