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Having a chronic hepatitis C infection can affect a person in day to day life more than you can expect. Hepatitis C virus is the most common blood-borne in the United States, with more than 3 million people infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But even with such a high number, patients feel there is a lot of misinformation about this infectious disease.
This is what people diagnosed with hepatitis C want you to know about their illness:
1. Hepatitis C is a serious disease. “You can put your head on the ground,” says Joe Benko, 64, an Army veteran of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who learned he had the virus while donating blood. “If you have hepatitis C, you have to take the initiative and approach it. That is the only way to get rid of him.”
Although hepatitis C infection may disappear by itself in a small percentage of cases, about 75 percent to 85 percent of people who develop chronic hepatitis. The disease progresses over time, damage the liver, liver theAmerican Foundation explains. Hepatitis C can lead to liver cancer and liver failure, according to the CDC, and is the No. 1 reason for needing a liver transplant.
2. Many people with hepatitis C do not know they have it. Benko says he had no symptoms suggestive of hepatitis C. He was speechless for diagnosis. “I did not think he really had, and that was the frustrating part,” said Benko. “It was very difficult to digest.”
Getting a simple blood test is how to find out if you have picked up hepatitis C at some point in their lives. It review once now recommended by the Working Group US Preventive Services for all Americans born between 1945 and 1965, because people in this age group were more likely to be exposed to the virus. You are also at risk if you have received a donation of blood or organs or blood products used, such as those used to treat hemophilia before 1992, when health workers began to detect the virus. Injecting drug use – even once in the past – also puts you at higher risk for hepatitis C, like a tattoo in an environment not regulated as a friend. Anyone exposed to the blood of a person with hepatitis C are at risk of infection and should be examined, according to the CDC.
3. Be aware can help prevent the spread of the virus. “Be careful with the blood of transfer someone,” said Benko. “It’s something I had to be very aware. It made me upset and depressed at times, but had to be aware of this to avoid exposing others.”
Although hepatitis C is passed through the blood, the virus is able to survive in the blood outside the body. According to the CDC, which can live up to four days at room temperature contaminated surfaces. Because of this, even dried blood can be infectious. If you have hepatitis C or live with someone who does not share anything that might have even traces of blood on it, such as razors or toothbrushes, warns the Department of Health and Human Services.
4. If someone has hepatitis C, it is not their fault. “The stigma surrounding hepatitis C is an additional burden for the victim of the disease,” says Marti MacGibbon, a speaker and addiction treatment professional inspiration that had hepatitis C. “There is nothing to be ashamed , “she says. Hepatitis C is transmitted along through contact with infected blood, which can happen in a health center with an accidental needle stick, when a health worker is helping someone who is bleeding from a wound, or even when a worker comes into contact with a bloodied bandage. Do not assume that the infection came from intravenous drug use.
Benko doctors think they may have contracted the virus when he had medical care for a foot deep wound in his youth, or during his time in the army, where he received numerous shots. “It could have happened when he was 10 years old, or when he was 18 years in the army,” he says. MacGibbon was about forty years old when it was learned in 1997 that had the virus. Doctors believe that a blood transfusion received during a complicated knee operation in the 80s was probably the source of transmission.
5. Hepatitis C can be cured. “This disease is treatable, and is beatable,” said MacGibbon, which was declared in 2005. Do not let embarrassment or fear keep you get the free trial of illness. Early detection increases the chances of successful treatment. “Even if you have received a serious diagnosis, be tenacious, and never give up on living a healthy and happy life,” said MacGibbon.
Benko was discharged in December 2013, and he called the press his “best Christmas present ever.” Drugs for the treatment of hepatitis C lead to a cure of more than 90 percent of patients, and include Olysio (Simeprevir), Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), Harvoni, and Viekira Pak, more new options in the way.
6. People with hepatitis C need help and support. When Benko was diagnosed in 1990, it was agreed that a VHS tape was delivered about a type of treatment and was told it checked. There were no options for discussion or support groups to join. It is sometimes said that he felt depressed and frustrated. Now, the Internet has a wealth of information, he says.
If you know someone who has the virus, it can help just by being there. Sometimes, just knowing that someone cares enough to listen may be the impetus needed to get through a hard day. Use resources such as the American Liver Foundation or the CDC to report on the virus so you can better understand what a friend or loved one is going through.