Anderson Digestive Health Center
What is Hepatitis C? |
Dedicated Care Team |
What You Can Expect |
Who Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C? |
How Can Hepatitis C be Prevented? |
How is Hepatitis C Spread? |
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver that results from the Hepatitis C virus. Acute Hepatitis C refers to the first several months after someone is infected. Acute infection can range in severity from a very mild illness with few or no symptoms to a serious condition requiring hospitalization. Unfortunately, most people who get infected are not able to clear the Hepatitis C virus and develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Over time, chronic Hepatitis C can cause serious health problems including liver disease, liver failure, and even liver cancer.
With the recent development of new medications, Hepatitis C is now both curable and more easily treated. The newest treatment regimen is with pills that have minimal side effects. Statistics show that patients who follow a strict adherence to the treatment course with follow-up can expect a 97 percent cure rate. The bottom line: What was previously a devastating and often fatal disease can now be cured with these new, safer and shorter treatments.
Dedicated Care Team
Anderson Digestive Health Center provides complete, comprehensive care for chronic Hepatitis C infections, offering you the tools, medications, management and an expert care team to successfully complete the full course of treatment. Our care team is led by Gastroenterologists Dr. Anthony Thomas, Dr. W. Greg Thaggard, Dr. Barry Calvit and Dr. Eric Plott.
Dr. Anthony Thomas
Dr. Barry Calvit
Dr. W. Greg Thaggard
Dr. Eric Plott
What You Can Expect
As a patient, you will have some additional testing to determine the most appropriate treatment regimen. Tests include an assessment of liver fibrosis (usually by ultrasound) and may include HCV Genotype determination. The majority of patients can be treated for an 8- or 12-week course, and you will be reassessed during the weeks after treatment to confirm cure rate. Other services include medication management, a personal case manager, personal calls, support groups and a Pharmacy Concierge.
Who Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C?
Many people with Hepatitis C do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If symptoms occur, they can include: fever, feeling tired, not wanting to eat, upset stomach, throwing up, dark urine, grey-colored stool, joint pain, and yellow skin and eyes.
The only way to know if you have Hepatitis C is to get tested. Doctors use a blood test, called a Hepatitis C Antibody Test, which looks for antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus. Antibodies are chemicals released into the bloodstream when someone gets infected. Antibodies remain in the bloodstream, even if the person clears the virus. A positive or reactive Hepatitis C Antibody Test means that a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time. However, a positive antibody test does not necessarily mean a person still has Hepatitis C. An additional test called a RNA test is needed to determine if a person is currently infected with Hepatitis C.
Testing for Hepatitis C is recommended for certain groups, including people who:
- Were born from 1945 – 1965
- Received donated blood or organs before 1992
- Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once or many years ago
- Have certain medical conditions, such as chronic liver disease and HIV or AIDS
- Have abnormal liver tests or liver disease
- Have been exposed to blood from a person who has Hepatitis C
- Are on hemodialysis
- Are born to a mother with Hepatitis C
How Can Hepatitis C be Prevented?
Although there is currently no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C, there are ways to reduce the risk of becoming infected with the Hepatitis C virus.
- Avoid sharing or reusing needles, syringes or any other equipment to prepare and inject drugs, steroids, hormones, or other substances.
- Do not use personal items that may have come into contact with an infected person’s blood, even in amounts too small to see, such as razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, or glucose monitors.
- Do not get tattoos or body piercings from an unlicensed facility or in an informal setting.
How is Hepatitis C Spread?
Hepatitis C is usually 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 Hepatitis C by sharing needles, syringes, or any other equipment to inject drugs. Before widespread screening of the blood supply in 1992, Hepatitis C was also spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants. While uncommon, poor infection control has resulted in outbreaks in healthcare settings.
While rare, sexual transmission of Hepatitis C is possible. Having a sexually transmitted disease or HIV, sex with multiple partners, or rough sex appears to increase a person’s risk for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can also be spread when getting tattoos and body piercings in unlicensed facilities, informal settings, or with non-sterile instruments. Also, approximately 6 percent of infants born to infected mothers will get Hepatitis C. Still, some people don’t know how or when they got infected.
For more information visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis
In this Medical Minute, Dr. Anthony Thomas discusses Hepatitis C, how to determine if you should be tested, and the latest treatment method that is providing a cure for patients.