Hepatitis C testing is important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that more than 3 million people in the U.S. have this infection. The appearance of symptoms is not common and most people do not know they have it. In the chronic form, it usually leads to liver cancer or liver failure. That is why it is so important to get a full hepatitis test. This is the only way to find out if a person has been infected.
WHAT IS HEPATITIS?
It is a virus. There are three different versions. They are referred to as “A”, “B”, and “C”. Each one has the ability to cause serious damage to the human liver. Acute infections only last a few weeks to a few months. Many times “A” and “B” are acute. They can be overcome and a person’s body can get rid of them on their own. Chronic infections last a lifetime and can lead to liver cancer and liver failure. Many times the “C” version is a chronic infection. There are several ways to contract each form of the virus, but overall it is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This article discusses the “C” version. (Visit my other articles for more about “A” and “B”.)
This version of the disease is the one that most people are unaware that they have. It is spread by coming in contact with infected blood and can cause liver cancer and liver failure. The most common ways that people come in contact with Hepatitis C are through medical needles, tattoo needles, piercing needles, and blood transfusions (if the blood has not been tested). Sexual intercourse where blood is present may also spread the disease. Many health professionals consider it an STD.
Since it is considered an STD, anyone who engages in sexual activities where blood is present is at risk. Experts say hepatitis C is not transmitted through other bodily secretions such as saliva, vaginal secretions, or semen. Using condoms during sex reduces the risk of contraction. The only way to avoid hepatitis in this way is with abstinence. This means not having sex or engaging in sexual contact with others. Practicing abstinence is the key to avoiding all STD’s
Most people who are infected do not know it because they do not experience symptoms and have not had a full hepatitis test. Many doctors say that when someone finds out they have it they find out by accident because they had to have a blood screening for something else. For example, some folks find out because they want to donate blood and their donation is screened and this is when the virus is detected.
However, sometimes symptoms do arise. People say they feel tired, have joint pain, have pains in their abdomen, experience sore muscles, have itchy skin, or dark urine. Some say that they experience a yellowing of their eyes and/or skin as well. If this happens, it is generally only after the other symptoms have gone away. No matter if there are symptoms or not, Hepatitis C can be spread by an infected person.
Hepatitis C is usually a chronic infection. This means the body is unable to get rid of it on its own. Whoever has it will live with it forever. When people are unaware that they are infected, they can sometimes go for decades before they find out.
There is no cure but doctors need to monitor liver function to ensure that a person can live a full and healthy life although they carry the virus. Many people with the virus live full and active lives.
A doctor cannot give the proper care to someone who is unaware that they have this disease. That is why it is important to get a full hepatitis test. Since people who are sexually active are at risk, there is an STD test that screens for all versions, including A, B, and C.