July 13, 2024

Hepatitis C: the hidden epidemic

This archived article was written by: Sean Webster

During the late ’80s and early ’90s, a new epidemic is sweeping across the globe and killing many people. That epidemic is the HIV/AIDS virus. Now, a new epidemic is affecting a new generation in the 21st century. This new threat is the hepatitis C virus. The hepatitis C virus, or HCV, is spreading like wildfire throughout the American population. In certain places in the United States, HCV is becoming more common than HIV and AIDS. It can be deadly and just as life threatening as these other viruses. Most people aren’t educated when it comes to the topic of hepatitis C. It is this ignorance that lead to the drastic increase in HCV cases. That’s why health officials labeled the hepatitis C virus as “The According to the Center for Disease Control, hepatitis is a disease of the liver and is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It can cause a lot of other problems in the body, but mainly affects the liver. When HCV is contracted, chronic infection occurs in about 55-85 percent of the cases. Chronic liver disease occurs about 70 percent of the time and death occurs in as much as five percent of the cases. HCV is no laughing matter, it can cause some serious problems and can affect a person in a variety of ways.
Transmission occurs when blood or body fluids from an infected person enters the body of a person who is not infected. This can happen in a variety of different ways. Most infections are caused from illegal drug use with needles and snorting tools. It’s surprising, but HCV can be contracted when an infected person shares their rolled up bills or snorting straws with someone else. But this isn’t the only way the virus can be transferred. It can be transferred from a mother to her unborn child, tattooing or piercing tools, and also through sexual intercourse, but it’s very rare. HCV isn’t just a virus that affects the younger generations. “Older Generations” who aren’t interested in drugs, tattoos and piercings can contract HCV. One of the most common ways for to contract the virus is through blood transfusions. Blood transfusions are screened carefully, but still happens. In fact, there is a 1/103,000 of a chance that a person will contract HCV through a blood transfusion. The only way to keep from getting HCV is awareness and prevention.
Although 80 percent of HCV cases show no signs or symptoms, it is important to know some warning signs so you can detect the virus early. Some common signs and symptoms: jaundice, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and nausea. If you have any of these symptoms or suspect that you might have HCV, it is important to get tested at the hospital or health clinic. If a person contracts HCV, they need to visit a doctor and get tested for liver disease.
Hepatitis C is a virus, without a cure. There are some treatments for HCV including interferon and ribavirin treatments, the most common and most preferred. To avoid contracting HCV, stay away from drugs and if you get a tattoo or piercing, choose the safest and cleanest venue. Also, it would be a good idea to get a blood test during an annual physical. If you do these things, you can avoid HCV and live a much healthier and longer life.