WHO IS SUSCEPTIBLE?
• Persons who have ever injected illegal drugs, including those who injected only once many years ago
• Recipients of clotting factor concentrates made before 1987
• Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants before July 1992
• Patients who have ever received long-term hemodialysis
• All persons with HIV infection
• Persons who have snorted drugs (eg, cocaine); due to blood on shared straw or bill
• Persons with known exposures to hepatitis C, such as healthcare workers after needlesticks involving hepatitis C-positive blood
• Recipients of blood or organs from a donor who later tested hepatitis C-positive
• Patients with signs or symptoms of liver disease (eg, abnormal liver enzyme tests)
• Children born to hepatitis C-positive mothers (to avoid detecting maternal antibody, these children should not be tested before 18 months of age)
Pegasys® – HCV Spread
… Who Else?
• People who have received tattoos or piercings with infected needles or ink.
• People who have received acupuncture with infected needles.
• Persons who’ve been incarcerated.
• Combat veterans.
• People who have had sex involving blood — even microscopically — with an infected person. Sex is the least common way HCV is contracted.
WHAT IS HCV?
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a blood-borne pathogen often referred to as “The Silent Disease”. It is estimated that 1 in 5 persons suffers from the disease and don’t realize it. It is usually asymptomatic until scarring of the liver begins. Some may experience unexplainable health issues and seek treatment for depression, fatigue or digestive issues. There is no way of knowing you have HCV unless you specifically ask for an HCV blood test.
WHY SEEK TREATMENT?
There is currently only one treatment for HCV — non-radiation chemotherapy via a combo of weekly Peg-Interferon injections and daily Ribavirin pills. Depending on the genotype and viral load, treatment can take anywhere from six (6) months to a year. Untreated, HCV eventually leads to cirrhosis or liver cancer. It is a slow killer, but a certain one.
This blog is an attempt to educate, demystify and de-stigmatize HCV. Social stigmas are killer and add insult to injury. According to the Hepatitis C Support Projects pdf file on just that subject, the “harsh reality” of HCV stigma is that it “hurts more than HCV itself.” A bit of education will help battle prejudgment. The pamphlet also warns of labeling ourselves as an HCV patient as if it is the definition of our entire personality.