Hepatitis C Information
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Hepatitis C: The Silent Epidemic
This virus can lie dormant in the body for years before destroying the liver. Here’s what you need to know.
Not identified until 1989, hepatitis C is now the most common chronic bloodborne disease and leading cause for liver transplantation in the United States.
Hepatitis C can be either “acute” or “chronic.” Acute Hepatitis C virus infection is a short-term illness that occurs within the first 6 months after someone is exposed to the Hepatitis C virus. For most people, acute infection leads to chronic infection. Chronic Hepatitis C is a serious disease than can result in long-term health problems, or even death.
At present, no vaccine is available for Hepatitis C (vaccines have been developed for hepatitis A and B). Routine testing for hepatitis C is indicated for persons with unexplained elevated liver enzymes (liver tests) or any of the following risk factors:
History of Intravenous (IV) Drug Use
Shared contaminated drug injection or snorting equipment is the most common route of transmission for Hepatitis C today.
Blood Transfusion or Solid Organ Transplant
If you received blood, or an organ transplant before 1992, you may be at risk of contracting Hepatitis C.
Occupational Exposure to Blood Via Needlestick Injury
An estimated 2,000 healthcare workers annually are infected with Hepatitis C from a needlestick or sharps injury.
Perinatal Exposure (Pregnant Women)
Children born to Hepatitis C positive mothers have a 5% to 6% chance of acquiring the virus through the shared maternal-fetal blood supply.
Sexual Contact with Infected Person
The risk or transmission via this route appears to be low, except under certain conditions. Multiple partners without protection increases the risk of transmission.
Poor cleaning and decontamination of equipment that penetrates the skin can transmit the infection. This includes equipment used in tattooing, body piercing and nail manicuring.
Signs and symptoms
In many people, the infection has no symptoms, but others have flu like symptoms (fatigue, joint and muscular pain, nausea and vomiting) 6 to 8 weeks after the initial infection. About 10% of people develop jaundice (have yellow skin and eyes).
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Living with Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C can’t be transmitted by casual contact. The following measures will help to prevent transmission and help to preserve health:
- Do not share razors, nail-grooming items, toothbrushes, or other items that could be contaminated with blood
- Cover any open wounds and sores
- Wash hands thoroughly
- Stop high-risk behaviors, such as having unprotected sex and drinking alcohol. In someone with Hepatitis C, drinking alcohol dramatically increases the risk of liver cancer.
- Do not take any medication, including over-the-counter and herbal preparations, without consulting a healthcare provider.
- Get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B.
- Find out about support groups.
- Visit a healthcare provider every 6 to 12 months for assessment.
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Uinta County Public Health is providing testing for persons at risk for Hepatitis C, along with HIV testing and counseling.
Make an appointment by calling our offices: Evanston at (307) 789-9203 or Lyman at (307) 787-3800.
Resources for those concerned about Liver Disease -
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has the most current statistics and information, and it may be just what you are searching for. Click here
Throughout the year the American Liver Foundation produces brochures, handouts and other educational materials. Many of these are available as electronic documents.
Information in Spanish: Información española
Para obtener información sobre folletos en español y los materiales educativos producidos por la Fundación Americana del Hígado,
Organizations and links that may be helpful to you: Links