The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 3.2 million US citizens have chronic hepatitis infection caused by hep C virus. Often called a silent killer, this virus transmits through the body fluids such as blood, mucous, and semen and causes inflammation in the liver. Despite being a fatal infection nearly 75% of people do not even know that they are infected and when they do, it is already too late.
The biggest reason they fail to comprehend their symptoms is that the symptoms are generally mild or they do not experience any symptoms. Then, all of a sudden a severe liver damage takes place with or without any other liver disease. Without diagnosing their condition remains unidentified for long that further increases the liver damage and leads to an irreversible stage.
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The new insights on the hep C virus show that people who were born between the 1940s to 1960s are most likely to get this infection. Before three decades, there was no screening test for the virus available and before the 1940s there were no healthcare facilities or standard precautions to control the viral transmission.
Despite being widely available now, these screening tests are not standard. The only reason your doctor will order these tests is if you share your risk factors of sexual history with him. Many times people confuse hep C virus symptoms with other diseases because the symptoms are not consistent. It is like the infection sometimes initiates and then goes away without any treatment. The symptoms typically appear within six months of being exposed and it is possible for the body to clear out the virus during this time and remain healthy. Any time when the virus remains inside for more than six months, the infection is considered a chronic stage infection.
It is rare to see Hep C viral spread between the family members but if one of the members is infected, following precautions can save the rest. If a person in the house is immune-compromised or has a recent surgery, injury, or wound, the chances to get this virus are high.
Another misconception on hepatitis C virus is that people think it is similar to hep A and hep B virus, which is not true. Every type of hepatitis infection is caused by a different virus and needs a different treatment. The word hepatitis only refers to the inflammation of the liver but which virus has caused it changes the severity and nature of the infection.
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Hepatitis A infection is generally short-lived and the patient sometimes recovers without needing any treatment. Hepatitis B stays inside the body for a long time like the hep C virus and may or may not affect the liver during this time. However, unlike hep C, hepatitis B has a treatment that may also include liver transplants.
All this does not mean the hep C virus does not have no cure. Certain antiviral medicines can help to eradicate the virus that works for 90% of the patients. These medicines may include Harvoni (ledipasvir + sofosbuvir) and Viekira Pack (ombitasvir, paritaprevir, ritonavir, and dasabuvir).