Viral hepatitis can have a profound impact on your health, especially if it goes undetected. Early detection and treatment are vital to managing the disease.
What is Hepatitis C?
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 150 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C, a virus transmitted through contact with the blood of an infected person. Approximately 80 percent of people infected with the hepatitis C virus do not exhibit any symptoms. Those who do may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, joint pain and jaundice.
If left untreated, hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and even cancer. The good news is that with early detection and treatment, hepatitis C can be completely cured.
Should You Get Tested for Hepatitis C?
If you fit into these categories, be proactive and get tested:
- Were born between 1945 and 1965 (baby boomers)
- Received donated blood or organs before 1992
- Have ever injected drugs, even if it was just once many years ago
- Have certain medical conditions, such as chronic liver disease and HIV or AIDS
If You're Infected With Hepatitis C.
The World Health Organization recommends1:
- Education and counseling options for care and treatment
- Immunization with the hepatitis A and B vaccines to prevent co-infection from these hepatitis viruses to protect your liver
- Early and appropriate medical management including antiviral therapy if appropriate
- Regular monitoring for early diagnosis of chronic liver disease
1 World Health Organization. Hepatitis C Fact Sheet, No. 164, July 2013.