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Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. It is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which can lead to both acute and chronic liver disease.


STD and STD Testing

STI also sometimes referred to as STD are infections that are primarily spread through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. They can also be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, as well as through contaminated blood or blood products.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hepatitis C is acknowledged as a significant public health concern, along with several other STIs. The WHO has established ambitious targets aimed at diminishing the worldwide impact of these infections through various prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies.

Hepatitis C: What You Need to Know About This Silent Threat?

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that results in inflammation of the liver, known as liver swelling. This condition can lead to severe liver damage. The transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) occurs through contact with blood containing the virus.
For individuals with chronic hepatitis C, newer antiviral medications have become the preferred treatment option. These medications often have the potential to cure chronic hepatitis C.
However, a significant number of people with hepatitis C may not be aware of their infection, primarily due to the delayed onset of symptoms, which can take several decades to manifest. To address this, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all adults between the ages of 18 and 79 undergo screening for hepatitis C.

Unmasking the Silent Progression of Hepatitis C: From Acute Phase to Chronic Challenges


Every long-term hepatitis C infection begins with an initial phase known as acute hepatitis C. Typically, acute hepatitis C goes undiagnosed because it seldom presents noticeable symptoms. However, when symptoms do manifest during this phase, they may include jaundice, fatigue, nausea, fever, and muscle aches.

Long-term infection with the hepatitis C virus is referred to as chronic hepatitis C. Chronic hepatitis C often remains asymptomatic for many years. Symptoms become evident only when the virus has inflicted sufficient damage to the liver.

These symptoms can encompass:

  1. Easy Bleeding
  2. Tendency to Bruise Easily
  3. Persistent Fatigue
  4. Loss of Appetite
  5. Jaundice (Yellowing of the Skin)
  6. Dark-Colored Urine
  7. Itchy Skin
  8. Accumulation of Fluid in the Abdominal Area (Ascites)
  9. Swelling in the Legs
  10. Unintended Weight Loss
  11. Cognitive Impairment, Drowsiness, and Slurred Speech (Hepatic Encephalopathy)
  12. Appearance of Spiderlike Blood Vessels on the Skin (Spider Angiomas)

    It’s important to note that not all cases of acute hepatitis C progress to become chronic. Some individuals naturally clear the infection from their bodies during the acute phase, a phenomenon referred to as spontaneous viral clearance. Additionally, antiviral therapy can effectively eliminate acute hepatitis C.

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    safeguarding against hepatitis c: risk factors, screening and prevention

    Risk Factors

    Hepatitis C, a potentially silent threat to liver health, can affect anyone. Understanding the risk factors and getting screened are vital steps in combating this infection.

    Screening for Hepatitis C

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force strongly recommends hepatitis C screening for all adults aged 18 to 79. This crucial screening is especially imperative for those with higher exposure risks, including:

    1. Individuals with a history of injecting, snorting, or inhaling illegal drugs.
    2. Individuals with abnormal liver test results of unknown origin.
    3. Babies born to mothers with hepatitis C.
    4. Pregnant individuals during their pregnancy.
    5. Healthcare and emergency personnel with potential blood exposure or needlestick injuries.
    6. Individuals with hemophilia treated with clotting factors before 1987.
    7. Long-term hemodialysis patients.
    8. Recipients of blood or organ transplants before 1992.
    9. Sexual partners of those diagnosed with hepatitis C.
    10. Individuals living with HIV infection.
    11. Men who have sex with men.
    12. Sexually active individuals considering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.
    13. Individuals with a history of incarceration.


    Prolonged hepatitis C infection can lead to severe complications, such as:

    • Liver Cirrhosis: After many years of infection, the liver may become scarred, impairing its function.
    • Liver Cancer: A small percentage of individuals with hepatitis C may develop liver cancer.
    • Liver Failure: Extensive scarring can result in the liver ceasing to function.


    Protecting yourself from hepatitis C involves proactive measures:

    • Quit Illegal Drug Use: Seek assistance if you use illegal drugs to break the cycle of risk.
    • Safe Body Piercing and Tattooing: When considering body piercing or tattooing, choose reputable establishments with a history of cleanliness. Ensure sterile equipment and needle use. If in doubt, find a different shop.
    • Practice Safe Sex: Always use protection when engaging in sexual activity with partners whose health status is uncertain. The risk of hepatitis C transmission through monogamous couples is generally low.

    We have an experienced sexual health team who can help you get tested or treated for hepatitis C quickly and accurately.

    How is Hepatitis C Treated?

    The approach to treating hepatitis C varies depending on individual factors. Not everyone afflicted with hepatitis C necessitates treatment, as some immune systems can effectively combat and eliminate the virus naturally.

    In cases where the immune system falls short of clearing the infection, medications are typically effective in managing the condition. Gone are the days of cumbersome weekly injections with their undesirable side effects. Contemporary antiviral medications have emerged as highly successful alternatives for combating the hepatitis C virus.

    These medications are administered in pill form and are renowned for their minimal side effects. However, treatment often spans a duration of approximately 12 to 24 weeks.


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    1. Why is testing for hepatitis C important?

    Testing for Hepatitis C holds paramount importance because this infection often proceeds silently, with many individuals being asymptomatic carriers, unaware of their condition.


    2. How is hepatitis C testing carried out?

    Hepatitis C testing typically involves a blood sample, where a healthcare professional draws a small amount of blood from your arm. The collected sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. There are also rapid antibody tests available for Hepatitis C that provide quick results with a fingerstick blood sample.


    3. What do the results of a hepatitis C test indicate, and are there different stages or results?

    Hepatitis C testing typically involves a blood sample, where a healthcare professional draws a small amount of blood from your arm. The collected sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. There are also rapid antibody tests available for Hepatitis C that provide quick results with a fingerstick blood sample.


    4. What are the lab procedures for hepatitis C testing?

    Laboratory procedures for Hepatitis C testing involve analyzing the blood sample to detect the presence of the Hepatitis C virus. This is accomplished through various methods, including enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) to detect antibodies and nucleic acid tests (NATs) to confirm the presence of the virus itself.


    5. How should someone prepare for a hepatitis C test?

    Preparing for a Hepatitis C test usually entails no specific dietary or lifestyle changes. It is advisable to follow any instructions provided by your healthcare provider. In most cases, there is no need to fast or make any special preparations before the test. Simply being ready for the blood draw is typically sufficient.

    Client Inquiries

    FAQ For Hepatitis C

    How is Hepatitis C transmitted?

    Hepatitis C is primarily transmitted through contact with infected blood. Common modes of transmission include sharing needles among drug users, receiving blood transfusions or organ transplants prior to 1992, and unsafe medical practices. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact and from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth.

    Is Hepatitis C curable?

    Yes, Hepatitis C is curable. Advances in medical treatment have led to the development of highly effective antiviral medications known as direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) that can cure most cases of Hepatitis C. Treatment duration and specific medications may vary depending on the genotype of the virus and other factors.

    What are the potential complications of Hepatitis C?

    If left untreated, chronic Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver complications, including liver cirrhosis, liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), and liver failure. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly reduce the risk of these complications.

    Is there a risk of reinfection after successful treatment for Hepatitis C?

    While it is possible to be reinfected with Hepatitis C after successful treatment, the risk is relatively low, especially if individuals adopt safer behaviors to prevent reinfection. It’s crucial to continue practicing preventive measures to reduce this risk.