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Hepatitis C: Prevent it, Detect it and Treat it

What is Hepatitis C or ‘Hep-C’?

Hepatitis C (chronic hepatitis) is a medical condition indicated by inflammation of the liver. This virus take many forms, the most common being Type 1. Because there are few symptoms, Hep-C can be hard to detect. In fact, many people can live with Hepatitis and show no symptoms at all. Early detection is key, as severe liver damage can occur, not to mention the unwilling infection of a sexual partner. Thankfully, Hep-C can be cured, unlike some other viruses that can be sexually transmitted. The sooner the detection, the sooner one can resume a normal, healthy life. With that in mind, the symptoms to look for are the following:

  • Jaundice (the yellowing of eyes and skin; darker urine occurs during jaundice, as well)
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

If experiencing these symptoms, you should go to a physician for a blood test immediately. The earlier this nasty virus is detected and treated, the better. If untreated, chronic Hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, liver scarring, or even cancer. If the blood test comes back positive, the following treatments may be prescribed by your doctor:

  • A once a day pill called Harvoni, which can cure the virus in 8 to 12 weeks. This medication is very expensive, however, so a physician may recommend the following combination of medications as less expensive options:
  • A combination of boceprevir (Victrelis), simeprevir (Olysio), sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), or Viekira Pak (ombitasvir, paritaprevir, pegylated interferon, ritonavir, dasabuvir)
  • Interferon (taken by injection)
  • Ribavirin (taken in liquid or pill form)

How Can You Get Hep-C?

The virus spreads through the blood and bodily fluids of an infected person, and therefore can be contracted in a few ways. The following are ways that one can get Hep-C:

  • Coming into contact with an infected needle
  • Having unprotected sex while suffering from an STD or HIV infection
  • Consistently having rough sex
  • Contracting the virus from the womb (i.e., the mother has Hep-C during conception)
  • Receiving a contaminated blood transfusion

How Can You Prevent Hep-C?

Though there is currently no vaccine to prevent Hep-C, its prevention is simple:

  • Don’t share razors. Razors may have infected blood on them, and if you cut yourself with an infected razor, you could face the risk of contracting Hep-C.
  • Be careful when getting tattoos or piercings! Before getting tattooed or pierced, you should make sure that all equipment is new and has been completely sterilized.
  • No sharing contaminated blood! If you are currently suffering from Hep-C, you absolutely must not donate blood.
  • Safe sex. A latex condom should always be worn with a sexual partner if they have not been tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

With early detection, Hep-C can be treated and long-term effects can be avoided. Hep-C can be prevented and, if contracted, cured. Sexual safety and vigilance, along with refraining the sharing of personal objects which may have been contaminated, are of utmost importance. By remaining aware, you can lead a healthy, happy, life–free of Hep-C.

References.

  1. WebMD: Hepatitis Health Center. Accessed from: http://www.webmd.com/hepatitis/hepc-guide/digestive-diseases-hepatitis-c?page=2#3 accessed July 10, 2015
  2. CDC: Viral Hepatitis: Hepatitis C Information. Accessed from: http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/ accessed July 10, 2015
  3. Hepatitis C. Accessed from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepatitis_C accessed July 10, 2015

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