What is Hepatitis C?
This infection of the liver is caused by the hepatitis C virus. About 3.5 million people in the U.S. have the disease. But it causes few symptoms, so most of them don’t know.
There are many forms of the hepatitis C virus. The most common in the U.S. is type 1. None is more serious than any other, but they respond differently to treatment.
Persons for Whom Hepatitis C Virus Testing is Recommended
The Centers for Disease Control recommends you get tested for the disease if you:
- Were born between 1945 and 1965.
- Received blood from a donor who had the disease.
- Have ever injected drugs.
- Had a blood transfusion or an organ transplant before July 1992.
- Received a blood product used to treat clotting problems before 1987.
- Have been on long-term kidney dialysis.
- Have HIV.
- Were born to a mother with hepatitis C.
What Are the Symptoms?
Many people with Hepatitis have no symptoms. But you could notice these:
- Jaundice (a condition that causes yellow eyes and skin, as well as dark urine)
- Stomach pain
- Loss of appetite
How Do You Get It?
The virus spreads through the blood or body fluids of an infected person.
You can catch it from:
- Sharing drugs and needles
- Having sex, especially if you have an STD, an HIV infection, several partners, or have rough sex
- Being stuck with infected needles
- Birth – a mother can pass it to a child
Hepatitis C isn’t spread through food, water, or by casual contact.
How Is It Diagnosed?
You can get a blood test to see if you have the hepatitis C virus.
Are There Any Long-Term Effects?
Yes. About 75% to 85% of people who have it develop a long-term infection called chronic hepatitis C. It can lead to conditions like liver cancer and cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. This is one of the top reasons people get liver transplants.
How Is It Treated?
Hepatitis C treatments have changed a lot in recent years. Speak to your health care provider about your options for treatment.
Get tested! Lighthouse Guild provides a full spectrum of vision and healthcare services helping people who are blind or visually impaired. As part of our Medical Services, we offer testing and linkage to care. If you are a GuildNet member, talk with your Care Manager about the services available to you.