May 19th is National Hepatitis Testing Day

Hepatitis C (Hep C) is a blood-borne virus that often goes undetected due to its lack of noticeable symptoms. It is estimated to affect 3.5 million people in the United States. This “silent disease†causes inflammation of the liver, and if left untreated can lead to cirrhosis and potentially liver cancer. Acute hepatitis is often short term and may cause infections. Chronic hepatitis is more progressive and potentially terminal. Approximately 75%–85% of people who become infected with Hep C virus develop chronic infection.

If you are a current or former injection drug user, you are at a higher risk of contracting Hep C. Sharing needles is currently the most common way Hep C is spread in the United States. Patients who received donated blood or organs before 1992 may also be at an increased risk of Hep C due to lack of effective blood screenings. Currently, medical procedures are a less common way Hep C is spread in the United States due to improved blood screenings. Other less common risk include: sexual contact with someone who has Hep C, sharing items such as razors or toothbrushes that may have been contaminated with the blood of an infected individual. Hep C cannot be spread via mosquitos, kissing, holding hands, hugging, coughing, sneezing, breastfeeding, or food and water. Take this 5 minute Hepatitis Risk Assessment developed by the CDC and get a personalized report.

Treatment for Hep C has recently evolved. There are now medications that are more effective with fewer side effects than in the past. People with chronic Hep C should be regularly seen by a doctor.

For more information about Hepatitis C and treatments, please contact our office at (985) 446-1958.

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