My hope for this site is for it to be informative and helpful to all who stop in for a visit.
(a lot of this info is from WebMD)
(Please also visit my link about my son at the bottom.. he was killed in a car accident August 12, 2000 ... I miss him so much. My heart is forever broken!)
There are approximately 4 million people walking around today with this disease and most don't even know they have it. This form of hepatitis is increasing rapidly around the world -- and may produce no symptoms (or very few) until significant liver damage has been done. It has been called the "silent killer".
I was diagnosed with hepatitis C after donating blood. I received a letter from the blood bank stating that the virus was detected and to seek medical advice. I couldn't believe it...I hadn't felt sick...but I did have fatigue (extreme at times) but chalked this up to the fact that I worked hard. I also had muscle and joint pain, again chalking this up to the fact that I was getting older and had let myself get out of shape. But still I felt pretty good.
Well off to the doctor I flew (and I mean flew). He did some special tests and sure enough I had HCV (hepatiis C virus).
If you think you are at risk for HCV, you need to see your doctor it may save your liver from serious damage or even save your life!
Description of Hepatitis C -- caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and mainly transmitted through contact with infected blood -- leads to inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C can be life-threatening, yet many people who have it don't even know it. That's because this disease generally progresses gradually over as long as 40 years or more, often eventually leading to cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and/or other serious liver problems. Over half of the cases of hepatitis C reported each year become chronic, even with treatment.
Everyone with this disease is potentially infectious. If you've been diagnosed with hepatitis C, it is your responsibility to do all you can in keeping other people from getting it. Because HCV is transmitted in blood, others may be infected through sharing razors, needles, toothbrushes, or nail files (this was a concern for me, as I used to get my nails done all the time, and they sometimes made my cuticles bleed, something to think about for all who have their nails done) or through tattooing, body piercing, or acupuncture done by an infected person. Just one exposure may be enough to transmit the infection. Although hepatitis C accounts for 90% of cases related to blood transfusions, this is now a rare cause of the disease, because donor blood has been tested for it since 1989. HCV may occasionally be transmitted through sexual contact. (if you are a high risk sexually active person, have herpes etc.)
Hepatitis C isn't like A and B, previous infection with HCV does not produce immunity. There also is no vaccine for HCV, and the hepatitis A and B vaccines do not provide immunity against hepatitis C.
The hepatitis C virus can live undetected in the body for years. In fact, up to 90 percent of people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) show no symptoms until decades later when damage from the virus' relentless attack on the liver shows up during medical tests. Those infected with the virus carry an increased risk of developing cirrhosis and cancer of the liver.
Hepatitis C usually produces few or no symptoms early on -- and when they do occur, they resemble the symptoms of many other medical conditions.
The symptoms may be very mild and flu-like -- for example, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, joint pain, headache, fever, and nausea. This is why so many people with HCV don't know they're infected. Hepatitis C does not usually cause yellowing of the skin and eyes common in other liver diseases, but it can occur.
Vital Information: CLICK HERE New Treatment offers hope for HCV.. check out the article
How can a person protect themselves from getting hepatitis C and other diseases spread by contact with human blood? ~~ Don't share toothbrushes, razors, nail clippers or files, or anything sharp. Don't share anything that may possibly have someone elses blood on it. (you can't get it from drinking or eating after someone or from casual contact or from kissing or touching. It has to be blood contact.)
Please if you use drugs STOP! Get help from a treatment program. If you don't stop ~ DON'T SHARE anything that has to do with drug use (i.e. straws for cocaine snorting).
If you are a healthcare worker, always follow routine universal precautions and safely handle needles and other sharps. Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
Consider the health risks if you are thinking about getting a tattoo or body piercing: You can get infected if:
the tools that are used have someone else's blood on them
I have just recently found out my genotype. No doctor checked this before because little was known and I don't think they knew to do this. Please see a gastroenterologist or liver specialist - and if they don't mention this test -- REQUEST it!
They are now learning more about this disease and are becoming more informed. But there is still a lot of research that needs to be done. And the fact that this is so new to the medical field (as far as how well certain treatments work) they don't have any long term cases to be able to say "yes, this works" or "no, this doesn't work" and HCV, like the AIDS virus, mutates frequently, hindering the development of a vaccine.
DO I NEED TO BE TESTED??
Read on....more links at bottom! Have you ever shared a razor or toothbrush...or had your nails done and they bled?? How do they sterilize their equipment? Were you in Vietnam? Been in a fight and gotten bloody knuckles and someone's blood on you? These things could put you at risk.
NEW JUST IN FROM WEBMD
JUNE 5, 2000
It's estimated that almost four million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus, which infects the liver, killing up to 10,000 people each year.
New laboratory research shows that hepatitis C can grow in mosquito cells, leading scientists to believe that the virus could possibly be spread by mosquitoes.
People at highest risk for getting hepatitis C are drug abusers, people who receive transfusions, patients who require kidney dialysis, and health care workers
CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE
New Treatment offers hope for HCV.. check out the article
By comparison, there are just under a million Americans infected with the AIDS virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Currently, about 10,000 Americans die each year from HCV-related disease, compared with 14,000 from AIDS-related conditions. HCV ranks second behind alcoholism among the causes of liver disease and is the leading reason for liver transplants. About 85 percent of people infected with HCV go on to develop chronic hepatitis. About 20 percent develop cirrhosis, an incurable disease, within 20 years. And up to half of those cases progress to end-stage liver disease or liver cancer.
A growing problem Hepatitis C-related deaths may soon overtake the number of AIDS-related deaths in the U.S., according to John B. Gross Jr., M.D., a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology (study of the liver) at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. "The difference is that the death rate for HIV is rapidly decreasing while that of HCV is increasing," says Dr. Gross. "Computer models predict that the annual number of HCV-related deaths will quadruple in 20 years, due primarily to the aging of people already infected." Dr. Gross is quick to point out that the annual death rate attributed to HCV is a quarter of 1 percent. "That means that 99.75 percent of infected individuals survive each year," says Dr. Gross. Because HCV produces no symptoms in its earliest stages, most infected people may spread it because they don't know they're infected.
There are 300,000 Americans alive today who are infected with HCV as a result of blood transfusions they received before 1992. Effective blood screening has dramatically reduced the chances of infection from transfusions. Contaminated drug injecting paraphernalia that is shared is now responsible for about half of all new hepatitis C cases.
"With a total of 4 million Americans infected with HCV, this epidemic is the greatest public health crisis we face as we bridge our public health priorities and policies into the next century." People infected with HCV should get vaccinated against two other forms of hepatitis — types A and B. All three types are caused by different viruses. Infection with one virus type offers no immunity against infection by another.
Hepatitis is a medical term that means inflammation of the liver, a roughly 3-pound organ that sits behind your lower ribs on the right side of your abdomen. Among its many functions, the liver detoxifies harmful substances and purifies the blood, metabolizes nutrients, drugs and other materials and manufactures proteins and enzymes needed by the body.
Cirrhosis occurs when inflammation causes scar tissue to form in the liver, impairing its ability to perform many vital functions. "Since there is no effective vaccine for hepatitis C, the only way to prevent potential serious liver damage is to avoid becoming infected," says Dr. Gross form mayo clinic.
Those infected with hepatitis C should not donate blood, organs, tissues or semen, according to the CDC.
[***Since I made this page I have had 2 liver biopsies. The first one showed mild inflamation. The doctor said your liver is fine and working well. In 3 years I had another one because a blood test showed the virus was active and the viral load was high. This biopsy showed moderate to severe fibrosis. With mild bridging. Not cirrhosis yet but well on its way to cirrhosis.
I am now on a waiting list for treatment. (since this writing there is now enough meds from what I understand...there was a waiting list due to so many people being diagnosed with it). I also have the geno-type 1b that does not respond well to treatment. The treatments make you very ill, but I have to try for my family. If it were not for them I think I would just let it go and go see Josh. But I am praying God to work a miracle and let the meds work so I can stay here a while longer. God is in control and His will be done. Josh is waiting on the other side. (smile)***]
Went off the wait list and started treatment October 4, 2002...
Click below for my treatment journal
Being Free of Hepatitis C Six Months After Treatment May Mean You're Cured
Good news for people with hepatitis C who respond to treatment. If you're free of the hepatitis C virus six months after treatment ends, the chances are you will remain that way and may even be considered cured. (my opinion only... I think it can hide and resurface later but gives the liver a rest in the meantime)
SOME OF THE LATEST RESEARCH
GREAT LINKS WITH INFO ON HCV AND INTERFERON
HCV F-KEYS lots of info and more to come