Archive for the ‘Hepatitis’ Category

Analyzing the Special Risk of HIV to Women

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

The terror of HIV is well known. It is known to create a major problem in the gay population and even more of a problem in the drug community considering the communal use of contaminated needles.

The problem with HIV is that it is not visible. Even a person with HIV at some point may not know they have it. There is a window even when a person is tested when there is no positive result.

In addition to these problems, there are people who have no qualms about keeping their condition secret and infecting other people.

Women face somewhat of a unique risk with respect to HIV.

Current information has shown that most women get HIV by having sex with men who don’t wear condoms. Further, while any woman from any culture or economic level may get HIV, African American women and Latino women seem to be presenting the largest number of cases.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus that causes AIDS.

HIV attacks the immune system so that “T-cells” in a person’s body are destroyed. This makes it very difficult for the body to fight off even minor conditions.

If a person has HIV they are termed “HIV positive.” (HIV+)

There are three main ways HIV is transmitted and that is by having sex with an HIV+ person and not using a condom; you may get HIV by sharing an infected needle for drug use and also by obtaining blood from an HIV+ person usually by transfusion.

Some false ideas about how you can become infected with HIV include “being around” someone with HIV, sharing a phone with an HIV+ person and futher, you cannot get it by kissing a person who is HIV+.

In addition to these points HIV is not transmitted mosquitoes.

As I mentioned HIV is not obvious by physical signs.

The only way to know that a person has HIV is through a test. Even then it may take a few weeks or even months to determine whether a person is HIV+ or not.

During that time the HIV can be spread.

The tests available are blood tests, oral tests and urine tests.

There is no cure for HIV. It can create a deadly illness, AIDS.

What are the unique dangers for women with respect to HIV?

The major problem for a woman occurs when she is pregnant.

A woman can pass HIV to her fetus at birth and a woman can get the HIV in her milk.

Additionally the problem of drug use can affect the baby as well.

Women must be doubly careful. Men will take advantage of them and leave. A woman is not only watching out for herself but possibly a baby as well.

Reference:

“Women and HIV,” Fact Sheet, 2007, FDA

The National Women’s Health Center, 1-800-994-9662

The Cure for Hepatitis C?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

The human race is constantly searching to alter the world in which it lives. Sometimes we alter our world in terrible and unintended ways, but other times we seek to alter the world for the better. Scientific advancements have allowed mankind to try and bring to an end the suffering of those afflicted with once incurable diseases. Science has developed cures for smallpox, polio, and other deadly diseases. Now many are curious if mankind is on the verge of curing another troublesome and incurable disease, Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a virus that is spread through blood to blood contact in human beings. The disease strikes at the human liver, though few if any people experience any symptoms within the first six months. The disease is characterized by chronic infections, which over time can have a disastrous impact on the liver. Those stricken with Hepatitis C can develop fibrosis of the liver, cirrhosis of the liver, liver failure, or even liver cancer.

Some 180 million people worldwide, including four million Americans, are infected with Hepatitis C. There may be hope for these individuals though in the form of a drug known as Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA).ALAhas been proven time and again to help improve liver circulation and has been used to help those suffering from other liver diseases.

Now, many doctors believe that Alpha Lipoic Acid delivered through an IV can actually help treat Hepatitis C. ALA is currently available over the counter in pill forms in the United States, and is a well-known antioxidant with powerful capabilities allowing it to enhance the effectiveness of vitamins such as C and E. ALA also helps the body turn glucose into energy, providing an extra boost for those fighting Hepatitis C.

While it is apparent thatALAcan be beneficial to those suffering from Hepatitis C, is it actually possible forALAto cure Hepatitis C? The answer according to some natural healers and other doctors is yes!

First it is important to understand exactly howALAworks within the body.ALA’s role as an antioxidant in the body is greater than that of most other antioxidant. For starters,ALAhelps to inhibit free radicals in the body. Free radicals are the byproduct of our bodies breaking down food for energy. When left to roam through the body, free radicals can actually damage organs, tissue, and cells in the body and inhibit your ability to fight off infections. Not only doesALAact as an antioxidant that destroys these free radicals, but it recharges other antioxidants in the body as well.

Next it is important to understand the view point of those who support the use ofALAas a cure for Hepatitis C. Ester Pecker is a professor of molecular biology at theUniversityofCalifornia Berkleyand states thatALAis crucial because it can inhibit the replication of Hepatitis C by bonding to our DNA.

Holistic physician Jesse Stoff M.D. goes further by saying thatALAcan not only treat Hepatitis C, but also help reverse the virus. Dr. Stoff is the director of IntegaMed inTucson,AZand believes thatALAcan actually cure Hepatitis C because it helps the body produce more glutatione. When taken as a supplement to increase its presence in the body,ALAcan produce more glutatione which assists in the process of protecting the body from the harmful effects of free radicals.

The use ofALAdoes have a potential for harmful side effects, though they do not apply to everyone that would useALAto treat Hepatitis C. The following side effects have been noted:
Skin rash
Lowered blood sugar levels
Dangerous for those who are vitamin B1 deficient
Lowered levels of thyroid hormones

Although these side effects have been noted in rare cases, there is little evidence to suggest that the use ofALAto combat Hepatitis C is dangerous.

The current preferred way to treat Hepatitis C, especially for those suffering from advanced cases of cirrhosis and liver cancer, is to have patients undergo a liver transplant. However, it has been shown time and again that Hepatitis C often infects the new healthy liver. Other antiviral IV combinations only have a 30% success rate. The most distressing factor here is the cost involved. Liver transplants cost upwards of $300,000.

ALAnot only has the potential to be a better cure for Hepatitis C, but it is also a more cost effective approach as well.ALA, combined in an IV with silymarin and selenium, costs $2,000 for a yearly treatment. Not only canALAstop the progression of Hepatitis C, it can also reverse its effects on the body.

As proof ofALA’s effectiveness, the Berkinson Clinical Study conducted by Dr. Burton Berkinson followed three patients who were given the ALA IV treatment. All three patients in the study were able to avoid liver transplantation and resume normal lifestyles after a treatment program containingALAand the other two antioxidants. There is no solid proof that a great cure exists for Hepatitis C, but there is exciting evidence that the triple antioxidant treatment program with Alpha Lipoic Acid at the core can stop and even reverse the effects of Hepatitis C.

How is Hepatitis a Spread?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Hepatitis A is a viral infection which targets the liver. When the virus infects a person, it causes damage to the liver. Hepatitis A infections can cause significant illness, but generally only in the short term. Typical hepatitis A infections last between one and two months. Unlike many of the other hepatitis viruses, hepatitis A is spread via contaminated water and food.

There are approximately half a dozen major viruses which can cause hepatitis. They are given very creative names such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and even D, E, and G. Most of the hepatitis viruses that are not A are spread by sexual contact and exposure to contaminated blood. In contrast, hepatitis A is found in contaminated water and food.

It is quite common to find hepatitis A in areas which have poor sanitation and overcrowded living conditions. Outbreaks can often happen in areas which have experienced a natural disaster. The spread of hepatitis A is also quite common amongst school-age children, who often share cups and eating utensils.

In 1995 a vaccine was developed to protect against hepatitis A. This vaccination has now become quite common in America. Because of this vaccination, the incidence of hepatitis A spread in America has dropped approximately 75%.

Hepatitis A has a long incubation period. It can often take up to 30 days after exposure for a person to experience symptoms of a hepatitis A infection. This make the spread of hepatitis A within a population very easy. It is often difficult to determine who the source of the infection was. By the time someone experiences symptoms, the initial source of the infection is long gone.

Fortunately, hepatitis A infections rarely become chronic. Recovery usually takes four to eight weeks in most cases. People who have compromised immune systems, the elderly, and children may experience more significant symptoms and are at greater risk for the spread of hepatitis A.

Preventing the spread of hepatitis A involves proper sanitation. Washing your hands after going to the bathroom is a key element in preventing the spread of hepatitis A. Washing contaminated utensils, clothing, and bedding is also a key element in preventing the spread of the virus. This is especially important around people who are either known to be infected or are suspected to be.

There is a treatment which can be used to prevent the spread of hepatitis A amongst a group of people who are known to be exposed to the virus. Doctors can give an injection known as an immunoglobulin to people who are exposed to a person who is known to be infected with hepatitis A. Typically, an entire family will be treated this way if one person is found to be infected. This can reduce the risk of spread of hepatitis A to other members of the family.

If you have any other questions about the spread of hepatitis A or your risk for getting it, be sure to talk to your doctor. Hepatitis A is easily spread, but it is also easily prevented if simple steps are taken to ensure proper sanitation and cleanliness.

Hepatitis C

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Hepatitis C is considered an epidemic by the World Health Organization. A person can be infected with Hepatitis C for decades before actually being diagnosed. One hundred eighty million people worldwide are infected with Hepatitis C. There are 150,000 people newly infected each year in the U.S. This is an important topic in many ways;

1: It affects so many people throughout the world and normally has no signs and symptoms.
2: Hepatitis C is responsible for 50-76% of all liver cancer cases according to the CDC.

Hepatitis C is most common in men ages thirty to forty-nine who are non-Caucasian. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 3.9 million people in the U.S. are infected with Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood borne viral infection in the United States according to the CDC. There are between eight thousand and ten thousand deaths from Hepatitis C every year in the United States. According to the CDC this number is predicted to triple in the next ten to twenty years and will become a burden on the health care system. Currently in the United States one third of all liver transplants are attributed to Hepatitis C. It is common for a person to be infected with both HIV and Hepatitis C. It’s estimated by studies that 30% of HIV-infected individuals have HCV and 60-90% of individuals infected with HIV have HCV (Hepatitis C Virus). Individuals co-infected with HIV/HCV have accelerated diseases such as cirrhosis by about 4 times the normal rate of those without HIV. Chronic HCV affects about two percent of the United States population with estimated rising numbers according to the NHANES. There are approximately 250,000 deaths per year from the hepatitis C virus worldwide. There is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C, and treatment has a low level of effectiveness in chronic cases. Eighty percent of people who have Hepatitis C experience no signs or symptoms for an extended period of time.

Hepatitis C is transferred in many ways. The major source of HCV is injection drug use. The next major source of HCV is through sexual contact. Other sources include hemodialysis, perinatal, and health-care work. Lastly there are still people that received HCV due to blood transfusions before the 1980s when donated blood was not screened. The CDC claims that, “While it is possible for HCV to be transmitted from any percutaneous exposure to blood, exposures such as tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture have not been shown to place people at increased risk for infection.”

There have been recent advances in the treatment of Hepatitis C. The current treatment for chronic Hepatitis C is pegylated interferons (PEG-IFNs) in combination with Ribavirin. This medication has a long half life. Tests showed that the even though the treatment before this one was effective, the virus would begin to rebound at forty-eight hours after the beginning of treatment. This treatment was just approved in the U.S. and Europe. Though this treatment is more effective than any past treatment it only provided complete viral eradication in twenty-five to thirty-nine percent of patients. This means that though it is the best treatment currently used, it cures less than fifty percent of those infected. Alinia tablets are currently being tested by Romark Laboratories, but the tests are still being conducted and results have not been published yet.

The CDC claims that there are many unknowns in making prevention programs to fight this war against Hepatitis C. “A number of unanswered questions significantly impact the direction of hepatitis C prevention and control activities. Priority areas in which studies are underway or in the planning stages include those that determine: 1) incidence and risk factors for HCV transmission among household contacts of infected persons; 2) risk factors for transmission from mother to infant at birth; 3) risk of infection from intranasal cocaine use, tattooing, and body-piercing; 4) prevalence and incidence of infection in incarcerated populations; 5) risk of infection among steady heterosexual partners of HCV-infected persons; 6) risk factors for infection among persons on chronic hemodialysis; 7) risk for infection among persons with occupational exposure to HCV and effectiveness of therapy during acute infection; 8) the dynamics of HCV acquisition among injection drug users and the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies in preventing infection; 9) the frequency and consequences of infection with multiple HCV strains among injection drug users; and 10) development and performance of rapid screening tests for HCV infection.” As you can see there is still a lot of research and strategies that need to be done to effectively fight Viral Hepatitis C. Current prevention strategies that the CDC has already employed include; communicating information on HCV, educating the general public and those at risk, state-based prevention and control programs, surveillance, and epidemiologic and laboratory research.

Around the world and in the United States Hepatitis C is a major concern to public health. Taking into consideration the amount of people infected and the estimation by the CDC for the next ten to twenty years, Hepatitis C is definitely a cause for concern. If steps can be taken now, then maybe that estimate will reduce. The CDC and WHO, along with their partners are doing everything possible to find a vaccine and cure. The right steps are being taken, and if the unknowns can become known then the fight against Hepatitis C may be a success.

REFERENCES:

CDC, “Viral Hepatitis C,” December 6, 2004, Retrieved August 23, 2007 from http://www.cdc.gov/Ncidod/diseases/hepatitis/c/plan/index.htm.

PubMed, “The Burden of Hepatitis C in the United States,” November 2002, Retrieved August 23, 2007 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=12407574.

Pharmaceutical Business Review Online, “Romark Initiates Trial of Alinia for Hepatitis C,” August 17, 2007, Retrieved August 24, 2007 from http://www.pharmaceutical-business-review.com/article_news.asp?guid=28A42651-9CAC-4C82-919B-1A685C2B0B55.

Hepatitis B Vaccine – Risks and Benefits

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Hepatitis B is a horrendous disease, and I will admit that, however, it is not a contagious disease in the way measles or flu viruses are. In order to get Hepatitis B you must come in contact with the blood of an infected carrier or have sexual contact with someone who is a carrier. Children and especially babies are typically in no danger of contracting Hepatitis B. In 1997 the Hepatitis B vaccine was released to be injected into newborn babies, yet in 1996 there were 54 total number of cases of Hepatitis B in the age group from 0 to 1 year of age in the United States. Out of hundreds of millions of people and millions of those being infants, there were only 54 cases.

The release of the Hepatitis B vaccine in 1997 showed 1080 reactions reported to VAERS, and it is estimated that only 10% or less of total vaccine reactions are reported as doctors simply consider the reactions normal and therefore do not give the reactions enough credence to be a necessity to report. All doctors should report ALL vaccine reactions so a full picture of the vaccines efficacy and potential dangers can be studied and known because a mild reaction to one individual can mean a fatal reaction to another and without accurate reporting, they defend a “Safe vaccine” policy because the truth cannot be known. With the Hepatitis B vaccine many of the reactions were seizures and there were 47 deaths attributed to the Hepatitis B vaccine. Most of the cases of Hepatitis B in infants can be predicted by finding out if the mother has hepatitis B, if not then it is unlikely that the infant will contract it. Think about it 47 babies died in order for 54 infants to not contract the disease, (remember, these are not 54 deaths, just 54 cases). Clearly, in my opinion, the Hepatitis B vaccine risks and the benefits are out of balance on this vaccine, with the weight being on the, “RISK”, side.

In other words, millions of babies were injected with toxic chemicals which babies systems cannot deal with, more than a thousand and possibly tens of thousands of babies were damaged to prevent roughly 54 cases of Hep B. Secondly most of those vaccinated will lose the antibodies within 12 years after the vaccine so by the time they reach an age where sex and drug use might play a role in their contact with Hep B, they will no longer be protected.

Hepatitis B contains both aluminum hydroxide, and thimerosal which are both powerful Neurotoxins and although they reduced the levels of Thimerasol in Hep B, it is still the second most toxic element known to man and should in no level be administered into the body of your little infant. This is one vaccine that in my opinion is proof that the driving force behind the vaccine schedule has little to do with protecting your child and nearly everything to do with making a fortune for a few rich and elite corporations and their CEO’s.

Resources:
Dr. Mercolas Article on Hep B, should be very enlightening..
My article on Aluminum Hydroxide
My article on Thimerasol

Hepatitis B: Beware of the Killer Virus

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Hepatitis B Virus

Hepatitis B is an ailment caused by Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The virus infection takes place through blood and other body fluids i.e. semen, vaginal discharges, open sores, breast milk, and saliva. The infection may be acute (short duration) or chronic (longer terms). Hepatitis (“serum hepatitis”) means inflammation of the liver.

Virus Affects Billions of people

According to wikipedia HBV has ’caused epidemics in parts of Asia and Africa, and it is endemic in China and various other parts of Asia’. The report further states that about one third of the population (two billion individuals) in the world are suffering from hepatitis B infection. Another alert warns that there are 350 million chronic carriers of HBV.

Chronic Careers: You are at Risk

Most of the individuals infected by HBV are able to combat with their infection and get cured from their acute infection. But very few infected adults become chronic and they are termed as chronic carriers. Chronic Hepatitis B is less likely to be cured completely and in certain individuals it may lead to cirrhosis or scarring, liver cancer and as a result end up with failure of the liver. Be sure that Hepatitis B is preventable by vaccination. (eMedicineHealth)

Other Viruses

Other than Hepatitis B virus there are several viruses i.e. Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, Hepatitis A, C, D and E that infect the liver causing acute or chronic liver inflammation.

Liver is Your Precious Organ

Liver is the precious organ that is required to be always active to perform very vital functions. This organ converts and stores excess sugar into glycogen. It also disintegrates proteins into amino acids. It is also responsible for converting fat in its simpler forms for later use. People keep comparing your liver with the bio-chemical plant, since it synthesizes numerous enzymes and hormones. The yellow pigment called bile is secreted from your liver. Bile is responsible for most of your body metabolism. Your liver filters many known and unknown toxins i.e. alcohol, drugs, steroids etc. It safeguards blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain from getting affected by toxic substances i.e. alcohol and excess of steroidal drugs. Your liver is blessed with an incredible ability to fight against all these toxins or those wastes produced in the body as a result of various chemical reactions and heal by itself. However it can only heal by itself until it is infected with fatal HBV infection.

Infection

The infection pattern of HBV is similar to HIV. Most likely pattern of infection is through the exchange of body fluids. The possible transmission may result due to un-protected sex; contact with HBV infected syringe needles, ‘vertical transmission’ or transmission from mother to infant during pregnancy and delivery and so on. Be sure that HBV infection will neither occur through kissing or coughing or sneezing nor through food or water.

Symptoms

You will develop HBV symptoms with in a span of 30 to 180 days. Your physician may get mislead and judge the symptoms as flu. You will also develop fatigue, nausea, vomiting, fever, and frequent dehydration, painful symptoms over the body, jaundice with yellow eyes, body itching, dark urine and pain around your abdominal region. Most of the symptoms may be present and few of them may be absent.

Diagnosis

Your physician may diagnose the HBV infection by initial physical examination itself and may confirm the infection by prescribing repeated blood tests. In case of severity of the condition he may call for biopsy of the liver.

Treatment

There are anti-viral treatment in both conventional and indigenous system medicines i.e. idea and aired. Chronic infections need hospitalized treatment. Biopsy, ultrasound and CT scanning may present better picture about the severity of the infection. Some times complex surgical procedures are even recommended.

Vaccination

Hepatitis B vaccine has proved its effectiveness and safety. Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended to all infants. The dosage recommended is three or four separate doses along with normal immunization schedules. It is also recommended to vaccinate all children aged between 3 and 18. The adults should make it a point to get them vaccinated

Source:

1) eMedicineHealth – Hepatitis B
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/hepatitis_b/article_em.htm

2) I Am Your Liver: The Most Faithful Servant by Muthusamy R
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1076795/i_am_your_liver_the_most_faithful_servant.html

3) Wikipedia – Hepatitis B – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepatitis_B

HepaGam B: Prevent Hepatitis B Recurrence in Liver Transplant Surgery

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Largest organ in the body, liver weighs about three pounds and performs many functions, such as: Regulating, synthesizing (Bile – helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion), storing (processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content), secreting, transforming and breaking down many different substances in the body, including clearing the blood of drugs and other poisonous substances. Also, regulates blood clotting. Approximately twenty — five percent of cardiac output of blood flows to the liver.

Hepatitis inflammation of the liver is contagious and caused by one of three viruses: A, B or C. Hepatitis A: Mostly commonly found in children. When a small amount of the virus, which lives in the stool (feces or poop) contaminates foods, water, milk or especially shellfish, which is then ingested. Considered to be a mild infection, and does not cause chronic liver disease. Hepatitis B (serum hepatitis): Virus spreads through infected body fluids, such as blood, saliva, semen, vaginal fluids, tears and urine. Approximately 8,500 new cases are reported annually in the United States. Exposure to hepatitis B virus: Two types of infection that can result — acute (short lived) or chronic (long — term). About one percent of acute hepatitis B (fulminant hepatitis) patients die due to liver damage in this early stage. Approximately ten percent of hepatitis B patients develop chronic, life — long infection. People with chronic hepatitis B may not develop symptoms, but become “carrier’s” and can spread the disease to others. Also, increases chance of permanent liver damage, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis C: Virus spread by direct contact with infected person’s blood (drug needles, body piercing with un-sterilized tools, blood transfusions, sexual contact, and transmission from mother to newborn) and attributed to chronic liver disease. The leading cause of liver transplants in the United States. Symptoms of hepatitis: Foul breath, jaundice, a bitter taste in the mouth, dark or “tea-colored’ urine, and white, light or “day-colored” stools. Hepatitis A may show mild or no symptoms, especially children with this disease.

The second most major organ transplant is liver after the kidney. Removing a diseased liver and replace it with a healthy liver from an organ donor. In 2002, 5,300 liver transplants were performed in the United States, and more then 17,000 people in the USA are waiting for a liver transplant. Most common reason for liver transplant in adults is cirrhosis (Chronic liver disease in which normal liver cells are damaged and are the replaced by scar tissue. Most commonly caused by alcoholism and hepatitis A, B (HBV) or C or end stage liver disease. According to the American Cancer Society, Cirrhosis is the seventh leading cause of death by disease. Survival rate of liver transplants for adults is 60 – 75 percent and children 80 – 90 percent. If the liver is donated at a different location, it must be transferred to the transplant recipient location under sterile refrigerated conditions within 8 to 20 hours. Transplants are usually not offered to people with ongoing drug or alcohol problems, since the outcome of success is greatly diminished. In most situations patients are placed on a national waiting list for liver transplants.

Major concern for liver transplant recipients, who have already been exposed to hepatitis B, increased risk of re-infection from the virus, and can cause liver failure or liver cancer. In April 2007, Cangene Corporation (Winnipeg, Canada) reported that the Food and Drug Administration approved HepaGam B; prevent hepatitis B recurrence following liver transplantation in hepatitis B antigen (Any substance capable of inducing a specific immune response. Antigen or viral marker that appears in a blood test after being infected.), positive liver transplant patients. Also, product was approved in 2007 by Health Canada for prevention of hepatitis B recurrence following liver transplantation in adult patients. HapaGam B is purified antibody (Produced from human plasma, which is collected at U.S. licensed plasma centers from healthy donors.) or hyperimmune that specifically attacks hepatitis B virus (stimulates an immune response to the virus). Patients must receive injections at the time of the liver transplant and throughout their lives. The FDA said: The product reduced the infection recurrence rate to about 13 percent from 86 percent among liver transplant recipients who participated in clinical trials. Common adverse reactions included headache (6%), cold symptoms/flu (10%), and light headiness /fainting (3%). In 2006, the FDA approved HepaGam B to prevent hepatitis B infection acquired by sexual contact exposure, and in unborn infants whose mother’s had been exposed to the virus.

Flu Symptoms Can Mimic Hepatitis C

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Your symptoms are fatigue, fever, nausea, poor appetite, muscle and joint pains and you think you have the flu. But you are very tender on the right side of your abdomen just beneath your diaphragm, your liver. Could it be Hepatitis C? Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is spread by contact with blood of an infected person through sharing of contaminated needles and syringes. With improved blood screening testing, HCV is less common from receiving a blood transfusion. Other less common contact can be through needlestick or sharp instrument injuries, childbirth and rarely through sexual contact.

You are at risk of Hepatitis C infection if you are a health care worker exposed to blood, use illicit drugs, HIV positive, had an organ transplant before 1992, on hemodialysis for a long time, born to a woman with Hepatitis C infection or received a piercing or tattoo using unsterile equipment. Most people do not know they are infected with HCV until the liver damage shows up, maybe decades later. Complications include scarring of the liver tissue (cirrhosis), liver cancer and liver failure. Blood tests determine the quantity of Hepatitis C virus in your blood. Sometimes a liver biopsy is done to determine the severity of the disease.

Treatment includes antiviral and supportive treatment during an acute illness. If you only have slight liver abnormalities, you may not need treatment and need regular blood tests monitoring. Antiviral medications are taken over several weeks and may cause depression and flu-like symptoms. If your liver has been severely damaged, a liver transplant may be an option. There is no Hepatitis C vaccine. Your health care provider will recommend lifestyle changes however.

Alcohol increases the progression of liver disease and you should follow physician recommendations and stop drinking alcohol. Also, avoid medications that may cause liver damage, such as over the counter medications, Tylenol for example. Remember, to keep your body healthy with a good diet of fruits and vegetables, with plenty of exercise and rest. The most important lifestyle change would be to prevent coming in contact with HCV. Never share razors or toothbrushes for example. Stop using illicit drugs, practice safer sex and be cautious about body piercing and tattooing. Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have any signs and symptoms of Hepatitis C and have risk factors.

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic & CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hepatitis-c/DS00097/METHOD=print&DSECTION=all

http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/HCV/index.htm