What should you know about Hepatitis C?                    Hepatitis Awareness

On World Hepatitis Day 28th July, we at HPMA joining hands for Hepatitis C awareness.

Hepatitis infections can cause liver cancer and thus death. Many people die today due to a lack of knowledge about the disease. Most people live with hepatitis infection yet aren’t aware of the fact. That is sad. From infants to elderly ones, all are vulnerable to the disease. Fever, fatigue, Nausea, joint pain, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the symptoms of Hepatitis. Not everyone will show HCV symptoms. What can we do?

Let’s first get some facts about Hepatitis C prevalence in the United States.

Hepatitis C (HCV) prevalence in the United States?

According to the 2013-2016 NHANES survey, 4.1 million people were HCV antibody positive, and 2.4 million people were HCV RNA positive. As reported by CDC in 2019, 137,713 people were newly diagnosed with chronic HCV. According to a recent NHANES survey, only 55.6% of people infected with HCV in the United States were aware of the infection. 

National Progress Report 2025: Goal Reduce estimated* new hepatitis C virus infections by ≥20%

Source: CDC, National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System

*The number of estimated viral hepatitis infections was determined by multiplying the number of reported cases by a factor that adjusted for under ascertainment and underreporting (1–2).

How can health professionals contribute?

Healthcare professionals can encourage vaccination and screening. There are vaccines for Hepatitis A and B; however, no vaccine is available for Hepatitis C. However, it is possible to minimize the risk by avoiding any contact with contaminated blood. Healthcare professionals can create awareness on how to avoid getting in touch with contaminated blood.

What are you determined to do?

Individuals can take steps today to prevent Hepatitis infections. To avoid any possible transmission of HCV, they need to know how Hepatitis C is transmitted. We have mentioned below the risk factors associated with Hepatitis C –

1. Injection drug use: More than 60% of HCV cases are due to drug injection use. 20 to 30% of them become infected after two years of drug injection use, and about 50% of them get infected within five years.

2. Perinatal: Nearly 6% of the infected mothers will transmit HCV to the child. The risk of transmitting HCV doubles if the mothers are coinfected with HIV and HCV.

3. History of receiving a blood product transfusion before July 1992: The use of second-generation HCV antibody tests in 1992 reduced the risk of contracting HCV through blood transfusion. However, before that, in the 1960s, the risk of acquiring HCV through blood transmission was about 33%.

4. Receipt of a solid organ transplantation: HCV antibody-negative and HCV RNA-positive donors of organs can transmit HCV. There is a high risk of developing chronic HCV if a person receives HCV infected organs or tissues.

5. Hemophilia with receipt of factor concentrates made before 1987: Plasma factor concentrate and recombinant factor concentrate often come to use in clinical practice. Only in 1985s virus inactivation procedures for Hemophilia were introduced, and by 1987s, widespread use of these practices began taking place uniformly. Until then, most people with Hemophilia got HCV through contaminated plasma factor concentrates.

6. Intranasal cocaine use: Snorting crack cocaine, powder cocaine, methamphetamines, or heroin can increase the risk factor of acquiring HCV. The use of the pipes can cause burns in the oral mucosa. Also, the use of straws or tubing causes erosion of nasal membranes and thus bleeding through nasal passages. The use of such contaminated devices can result in HCV transmission.

7. Tattoos and Piercing: Unregulated and unlicensed tattoos centers such as those applied by friends or prison can cause HCV infection.

8. Household contact: Although rare, it is possible to acquire HCV via non-sexual contact. Using a blood-contaminated razor or toothbrush can cause transmission.

As goes the wise saying, when it comes to HCV, prevention is better than cure

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