Spotlight: Hepatitis C

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Let’s take a look at a dangerous infection with hepatitis C. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that cases of hepatitis C increased by 11% between 2014 and 2015. Current estimates show a similar increase over the past year.

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is considered a vital organ because it filters blood, processes nutrients and battles infection. The functions of the liver are affected by inflammation and damaged tissue. While hepatitis can be caused by alcoholism, toxins or some medications, it is usually caused by a virus.

The CDC claims that people born between 1945 and 1965, often referred to as “baby boomers”, are five times more likely to have this infection. It is recommended that all people born in that time frame be tested for hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can lead to serious health concerns including liver damage, cirrhosis and even cancer of the liver. People can go many years living with hepatitis C and not show symptoms of the illness. This is why testing for hepatitis is so important.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus. This virus can also be transmitted through sharing needles or other equipment used for to inject drugs. The current opioid epidemic in the U.S. has led to a significant increase in hepatitis C cases. Many of these cases are appearing in younger people who do not fall into the “baby boomer” category.

For some people hepatitis C is a short term illness, however in most people it becomes a long-term infection. Hepatitis C is a serious illness that can result in long term health problems and even death. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. New drugs are improving the way hepatitis C is treated and can lead to a cure.

If you are concerned that you may be experiencing symptoms of hepatitis C, or may have been exposed to the virus in some way, you should seek medical care. Since some of these viruses can be transmitted sexually having STD testing performed can help you to know the current status of your sexual health. It is possible to be infected by several STDs at the same time, including hepatitis C. For this reason, knowing the current status of your sexual health can be very helpful in deterring the spread of STDs.

Article by Robert Francis Curtis

Robert studied at Columbia College Chicago. He has worked as a Care Adviser here at Analyte Health for a while and looks forward to spreading more information about sexual health.

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