Hepatitis C is a chronic liver disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). An estimated 250,000 people in Canada are infected and between 3,200 and 5,000 are newly infected each year.
Why is Hepatitis C a health concern?
For many, chronic Hepatitis C can show no symptoms for years, but left untreated, may eventually lead to liver damage and liver cancer.
How do I get infected by Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is spread through infected blood to blood contact. Seventy (70) to eighty (80) per cent of Hepatitis C transmission is due to high risk behaviors such as injection drug use and sharing of contaminated needles and drug using materials.
The most common risk factors for HCV infection include:
- Injecting or snorting drugs, tattooing, body piercing with unsterile equipment or techniques;
- Sharing personal care articles such as razors, scissors, nail clippers or toothbrushes; with an infected person;
- Being born to a mother with HCV;
- Exposure by getting pricked by a needle (IDU or sewing) or sharp equipment that has infected blood on it; and/or
- Unprotected sexual activity that includes contact with blood of an infected person.
Why do I need my liver?
A healthy liver helps digest food and also stores vitamins and minerals. But most importantly the liver acts as a filter for chemicals and other substances that enter the body. It is also important in the manufacture of your blood and many proteins.
What if I have Hepatitis C?
The only way to know if you have Hepatitis C is to take a sample blood test.
It can be treated. Talk to your health care provider. The health care provider will tell you what medication to take.
Avoid alcohol or limit consumption.
|Hepatitis C is not spread by casual contact such as hugging, kissing, or shaking hands or being around someone who is sneezing or coughing.|
|Hepatitis C is not found in water or food.|
|Inform yourself. There is help and support available.|
If you have Hepatitis C, you my infect others. To prevent the spread of the virus:
- Use your own drug related equipment, cleaning with bleach may not kill HCV BUT will kill the HIV virus;
- Use your own toothbrushes, scissors, and razors or nail clippers that could be contaminated with blood;
- Cover open sores or breaks in skin by using band-aids or other sterile material; and
- If you have more than one sexual partner, or have new sexual partner(s), use male or female condoms, dental dams, to protect yourself against potential exposure to blood.
Are there symptoms from Hepatitis C?
At first, most people will have no or only a few symptoms, but over time some develop symptoms such as:
- feeling tired
- muscle pain
- joint pain
- head aches
- extreme itchiness
- pain in stomach area
- “brain fog”
|Hep C Infection|
|This virus goes away on its own||Chronic Hep C|
|For up to 1 out of 4 people (25%) who become infected with Hepatitis C, the virus goes away on its own during the first six months after infection; 3 out of 4 (75%) go on to chronic Hepatitis C and the virus will not go away on its own.||Possible inflammation, fibrosis|
|Possible cirrhosis and liver cancer|
|But remember, there is treatment for Hepatitis C. Many people finish treatment and are able to get rid of the virus|
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