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Fast Facts You Should Know About The Hepatitis C Virus

The fear of the Hepatitis C virus has created quite a number of myths and legends around the subject. But which is true and which is a fallacy. Below are some important facts that you need to know.

  • It is one of the 6 viruses that can inflame the liver.  The others are hepatitis viruses A, B, D, E, and G.
  • The infection was previously classified as nonalcoholic hepatitis.
  • It is one of the most common causes of viral hepatitis along with hepatitis A and hepatitis B in the United States. All three can manifest the same symptoms that include abdominal pain, nausea, fatigue, fever, and yellow pigmentation of the skin, eyes, and nailbeds.
  • Many persons who acquire HCV develop lifelong liver diseases. Fatigue is a common symptom reported in a persistent liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus.
  • Direct exposure to the virus through injection is the main mode of transmission of the infection. Blood transfusion is another important route of transmission of the HCV infection.
  • Up to 30% of infected persons with chronic liver disease from hepatitis C eventually develop liver cirrhosis (late stage scarring of the liver).
  • Cirrhosis caused by HCV progresses to become a cancer of the liver. Every year, 1-5% of patients infected with HCV in the United States are hospitalized for hepatitis C-induced cancer caused by hepatitis C cirrhosis.
  • Recovery from the infection is dependent on the genotype of the virus that infected a person. Other genotypes of hepatitis C virus can respond to treatment better than Genotype 1 of the virus.
  • Persons who got a blood transfusion in the ‘90s in the United States, precisely in July 1992, may have been exposed to the hepatitis C virus.
  • Before 1986, many who got transfused blood were infected with HCV. Currently, only 1 in every 100,000 units of blood is infected with the hepatitis C virus.
  • 50% of hepatitis C virus infection is attributed to the use of injections for taking in illicit drugs.
  • Other ways of contracting the virus include: using infected equipment for tattooing, body piercing, acupuncture, and needlestick injury sustained by healthcare workers.
  • The virus can be transmitted through sexual intercourse.
  • HIV positive persons are at a high risk of contracting the virus sexually.
  • Infected mothers can pass the virus to their babies before birth and cannot transmit the infection through breastfeeding.
  • Every year in the United States, approximately 30,000 new cases of hepatitis C infections are recorded.
  • More men than women are infected with the hepatitis C virus.
  • Females get infected more through blood transfusion.
  • Males get infected more through intravenous drug injection and alcohol abuse.
  • Persons belonging to the 20-39 age group are usually reported to be infected with the virus.
  • Older persons who are infected stand a higher chance of developing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer than younger persons.
  • Many infected patients do not show symptoms of hepatitis C virus infection even when their livers have been severely damaged.
  • It takes about 20 years for the infection to progress to liver cirrhosis in adults.
  • Much consumption of alcohol can facilitate hepatitis C infection.
  • Hepatitis C virus is spread more easily than HIV.
  • Liver enzyme tests can detect the presence of the infection.
  • Tests to determine the presence of antibodies produced against the hepatitis C virus are recommended for patients suffering from an HCV infection.
  • The use of rapid test kits for hepatitis C virus infection is approved by the United States FDA.  The test kits are designed to screen people at risk for contracting hepatitis, and for those who are showing symptoms of the disease.
  • Babies born to infected mothers are tested for the virus from 9 months of age upwards.
  • Infected persons are usually monitored for a long time by healthcare professionals for possible complications.
  • Persons with an advanced form of the liver disease are advised to undergo liver transplantation.
  • Infants less than 3 years of age can experience clearance from the virus by their body systems.  Therefore, it is not advisable to treat them since they can be free from the virus without treatment.
  • Treatment is recommended only for persons who have a lifelong chronic infection with other complications.
  • There is presently no vaccine for hepatitis C virus.
  • Sharing needles for intravenous drug injection is very risky.
  • Infected persons should not share personal effects like toothbrushes with others.
  • Where medication is necessary, antiviral drugs are used in the treatment of hepatitis C infection.
  • Medication is given based on the genotype of the virus one is infected with.
  • Some of the antiviral drugs are sofosbuvir, a combination of ledipasvir and sofosbuvir, ribavirin, and peginterferon alfa-2a.
  • The CDC reports that many die from hepatitis C infection more than from any other infectious disease because they are not aware of the infection owing to poor attitude to routine screening.
  • Late diagnosis of the infection can make treatment ineffective.
READ
All You Need to Know About The Five Types of Hepatitis

You should get tested today!