Hepatitis C Virus Facts

Hepatitis C Virus Facts
The hepatitis C virus is a virus that causes hepatitis C (a liver disease) in humans and can also cause lymphomas and liver cancer. It is a small, single-stranded virus in the Flaviviridae family. Hepatitis C is spread through blood primarily which puts drug users and those receiving medical treatments such as hemodialysis at the highest risk of contracting the virus. Once infected an individual may experience a mild illness that is short lived or they may experience a serious lifelong illness. It is estimated that between 130 million and 150 million people worldwide have hepatitis C. It is estimated that approximately 700,000 people will die each year around the world due to hepatitis C and its complications such as liver disease.
Interesting Hepatitis C Virus Facts:
Infection from hepatitis C can result in chronic or acute infection. The acute infection does not usually result in serious disease.
It is estimated that between 15% and 45% of those infected with hepatitis C are able to clear the virus from their system spontaneously without any form of treatment in six months or less.
Of those infected with hepatitis C that are not able to spontaneously clear the virus, the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver within 20 years is as high as 30%.
The regions that are most significantly affected by hepatitis C infection are Central and East Asia and Africa.
Populations that inject drugs have higher rates of infection with hepatitis C.
A major risk factor for hepatitis C infection is through medical treatments that involve the use of blood products that are not screened properly.
It is also possible to transmit hepatitis C through unprotected sex but this is not as common as blood transmission.
A mother can pass hepatitis C to her baby but this is also not common.
It is not possible to transmit hepatitis C via shared drinks and food or any sort of casual contact such as hugging or shaking hands.
Once a person is infected with hepatitis C the incubation period can last between two and six months.
Once infected with hepatitis C, roughly 80% of people will not show any symptoms.
Symptoms that people may experience, if they do have symptoms, can include fevers, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, fatigue, pain in the abdomen, darker urine, darker bowel movements, and joint pain. Some people also experience jaundice, which is the yellowing of the whites of the eyes and skin.
The diagnosis of hepatitis C is usually not discovered until liver damage has begun to occur, which can take decades.
There are six different genotypes of hepatitis C and once diagnosed with the virus a person should be tested to determine which genotype they have. Different types respond to different treatments.
There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
Treatment for hepatitis C can include antivirals, which are being used more often than previous treatments when possible as they have fewer side effects and cure rates are improved.
Prevention by avoiding risky behaviors is the best way to avoid contracting hepatitis C.

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