About Hepatitis C

Complete information is critical to proper identification and treatment of hepatitis C. The Bonnie Morgan Foundation for HCV in Longmont, Colorado, helps people learn about hepatitis C so they know the symptoms, causes, and treatments available to them.

 
Acute & Chronic Infections

If you have recently become infected with the hepatitis C virus, you may have no symptoms at all and may not even know that you have been infected. This is the acute infection phase and can last from six to eight weeks, or longer. Over time, the virus may disappear on its own, but if it does not disappear after six months, your infection is chronic.

 
Symptoms

Some people have mild or severe symptoms soon after becoming infected. These include:

Hepatitis Symptoms - About Hepatitis C
• Clay-Colored Bowel Movements
• Jaundice (Yellow Color in the Skin or Eyes)
• Dark Urine
• Loss of Appetite
• Abdominal Pain
• Joint Pain
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Fever
• Fatigue

 
Liver Damage

If a person has been infected for many years, his or her liver may be damaged. In many cases, there are no symptoms of the disease until liver problems have developed. At that point, it can lead to more serious problems over a period of 25 to 30 years, including:

• Cirrhosis • Liver Failure • Liver Cancer
 

Who Should Get Tested

To determine whether or not you have hepatitis C, you will need to have blood tests. You should consider getting tested if:

You were born from 1945 through 1965
You are a current or former injection drug user, even if you injected only one time or many years ago.
You were treated for a blood clotting problem before 1987.
You received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992.
You are on long-term hemodialysis treatment.
you have signs or symptoms of having hepatitis C, such as nausea, fatigue, reduced appetite, jaundice, dark urine or abdominal pain
You have abnormal liver tests or liver disease.
You work in health care or public safety and were exposed to blood through a needlestick or other sharp object injury.
You are infected with HIV.
you have resided in countries where hepatitis C is common (e.g., Egypt, southern Italy, India, Pakistan, Vietnam) and have been exposed to blood products, medical procedures, or vaccinations.

Transmission

Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected
Reasons for high risk of contracting hepatitis C :

Prior to 1992, some people acquired the HCV infection from transfusions of blood or blood products. Since 1992, all blood products have been screened for HCV, and cases of HCV due to blood transfusion now are extremely rare;

If you use or have used injection drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago;

Accidental needle-sticks in health care workers also have transmitted the virus. The average risk of getting HCV infection from a stick with a contaminated needle is 1.8% (range 0% to 10%). More than 150,000 patients have been notified of potential exposure to hepatitis and HIV due to unsafe injection practices in U.S. healthcare settings since 2001. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), medical injections are an overlooked source of infections and outbreaks. To better protect patients from this ongoing problem, the CDC Foundation's partnership with Eli Lilly and Company will support and expand CDC's Safe Injection Practices Coalition -- a group of public health, medical and industry organizations collaborating to raise awareness among patients and health care providers about safe injection practices;
  
If you have been in Jail;
If you have been at religious/ceremonial ritual in regions where Hepatitis c is common; 
Have tattoos or body piercing;
Have received a kidney treatment (hemodialysis);
Share personal items with a hepatitis C-infected person (e.g., razors, nail clippers, toothbrush);Share cocaine (snorting) equipment;
Have another infectious disease (e.g., hepatitis B, HIV);
 
Hepatitis C is rarely passed from a pregnant woman to her baby. About 4 of every 100 infants born to mothers with Hepatitis C become infected with the virus. However, the risk becomes greater if the mother has both HIV infection and Hepatitis C.
 
Any blood spills — including dried blood, which can still be infectious — should be cleaned using a dilution of one part household bleach to 10 parts water. Gloves should be worn when cleaning up blood spills.
 
if you ever tested positive for the Hepatitis C virus (or Hepatitis B virus), experts recommend never donating blood, organs, or semen because this can spread the infection to the recipient.

Hepatitis C is not passed from person to person by:

Coughing, sneezing;
Touching or shaking hands with an infected person;
Sharing food, drinks, or eating utensils;
Using toilet seats;
Hugging or kissing;
Other casual contact;
Breastfeeding unless your nipples are cracked and bleeding; or oral sex, unless blood is present.
Hepatitis C virus has not been shown to be transmitted by mosquitoes or other insects.

The Hepatitis C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for at least 16 hours but no longer than 4 days.

Contact us to learn more about hepatitis C.


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