This month is National Hepatitis Awareness month, and Tomorrow, May 19th has been designated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) as National Hepatitis testing day.
It is estimated by the CDC that 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV-infection and it is estimated that 1 in 3 living with HIV-infection are also co-infected with Hepatitis B (HBV) or Hepatitis C (HCV). There is both acute and chronic Hepatitis C. Acute HCV is caught within the first 6 months of becoming infected, while chronic Hepatitis C can persist for as long as 20 + years, and both can be asymptomatic. Viral hepatitis progresses faster among persons with HIV-infection and persons who are infected with both viruses experience greater liver-related health problems than those who do not have HIV-infection. Although antiretroviral therapy has extended the life expectancy of persons with HIV-infection, liver disease—much of which is related to Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infection—has become the leading cause of non-AIDS-related deaths among this population.
People living with HIV-infection who are co-infected with either Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C are at increased risk for serious, life-threatening complications. As a result, all persons living with HIV-infection should be tested for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C by their doctors.
Hepatitis C increases the risk of death for patients with AIDS by 50%, according to the results of a large study published in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases this month. A fifth of these deaths were attributable to liver-related causes, five times the rate seen in people with AIDS who were not co-infected. The investigators also found that a third of co-infected patients were unaware of their hepatitis C infection.
Below are some more facts from the CDC:
The following is some general information about Hepatitis C.
What are the symptoms of acute Hepatitis C?
Approximately 70%–80% of people with acute Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms. Some people, however, can have mild to severe symptoms soon after being infected, including:
How is Hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, Hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
People can become infected with the Hepatitis C virus during such activities as:
Less commonly, a person can also get Hepatitis C virus infection through sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes.
Hepatitis B and C can be cured. The earlier the infection is diagnosed the better there is a chance at curing it. Though, with new medicines and much more in the pipeline – chronic Hepatitis C sufferers are also finding it easier to cure Hepatitis C. Many clinics have the capability of doing rapid HCV screenings, much like the HIV test where a patient's status can be determined in 20 minutes. Treatment options for Hepatitis C are becoming more effective and less toxic to the body. !