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According to the reports of the World Health Organization, approximately 325 million people worldwide are living with viral hepatitis. Many of them are passing on the infection to others unknowingly. Looking at the staggering numbers of people contracting hepatitis C every year, it has become a major public health concern for all health organizations.
There are several misinformation and false beliefs about the virus, which make seeking treatment all the more challenging for the people. World Hepatitis Day, observed on July 28 each year, aims to raise awareness and educate people about the disease and its treatment. Here are a few important facts about hepatitis C that you must know about
People having hepatitis C can still live a healthy and long life
A major concern for patients recently diagnosed with the type C virus is the outlook. The HCV or hepatitis C virus was discovered first in the late 1980s and there have been significant advances in treatment ever since. Currently, nearly 25% of all infected people are able to recover from acute hepatitis C without any complications. Moreover, several modern treatment options in the form of medications and pills have made it less painful than the older methods.
There are multiple ways that a person can be exposed to the virus
The most common belief is that people using drug injections are likely to contract hepatitis C. While most people with a history of intravenous drug use are diagnosed with the viral infection, there are several other ways that a person may be exposed to the virus. For example, baby boomers i.e. people born between the years 1945 and 1965, are at the highest risk of getting hepatitis C. This is simply because these people were born before protocols for appropriate blood screening were mandated. Anyone born between this period should undergo tests for the type C virus. Besides, HIV+ patients and people undergoing haemodialysis or those who have had an organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1992, are also at risk of having hepatitis C.
You are less likely to have liver cancer or a transplant
Many people living with hepatitis C believe that a liver transplant or liver cancer is an inevitability of the disease but that is not the case. Out of a hundred people diagnosed with HCV, only about 5 to 20 people without treatment will develop liver cirrhosis. Only a few among these people may have to consider a transplant. Furthermore, antiviral medications can effectively lower the possibility of having cirrhosis or liver cancer.
An asymptotic person can still transmit the virus
An estimated 80% of people with acute HCV do not show symptoms. Chronic HCV does not exhibit symptoms until complications like liver cirrhosis develop. Therefore, one must take precautions regardless of how they feel physically. Hepatitis C virus is rarely transmitted sexually. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to practice safety measures during sex. The chances of transmission through toothbrushes or razors are relatively low, but one should avoid sharing these tools for safety.
There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis C
Unlike for HBV and HAV, there is no vaccine against HCV currently. However, with medical advancements, safe and effective vaccination is likely to be available in the future.
In case you are diagnosed with the type C virus or think you might have been exposed to the virus, consult a doctor immediately. He/she can tell you more about the symptoms and treatment of the disease and address your questions precisely. Additionally, read up on hepatitis C from reliable sources to help yourself and others distinguish between the myths and facts.