Approximately 17,000 Americans are infected with hepatitis C annually. Over 3 million are living with an active chronic infection. It’s a widespread problem, and one that could be greatly reduced through education.
How Does Hepatitis C Spread?
Hepatitis C can be spread through contact with body fluids or blood. An infected mother can pass it on to her newborn baby. A number of risky activities can also lead to an infection, including:
- Sharing needles & drug use
- Being stuck with an infected needle
- Having sex with an HIV-positive partner
- Having sex with multiple partners
- Having sex with an STD-infected partner
People with HIV can have coinfections, which means more than one infection is present in the body at a time. HIV and Hepatitis C coinfection can make it harder to manage both viruses.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C causes inflammation that damage the liver over time. Long-term infection can be present for years without any obvious signs. Symptoms to look for include:
- Poor appetite & weight loss
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Urine that is dark in color
- Abdominal fluid buildup
- Slurred speech, drowsiness, & confusion
- Spider-like blood vessels visible on skin
Hepatitis C Treatment
No cure currently exists, but treatment methods are improving for Hepatitis C patients. The FDA approved a new medication called Mavyret in August of 2017. This treatment option requires eight week cycles for adults who do not have cirrhosis. Other medications are also available. If you notice the signs of hepatitis C, contact your gastroenterologist right away to schedule an appointment.