Hepatitis C

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Introduction For this essay, I will do research on Hepatitis C for recognition targeted towards technical publications as JAMA, New England Journal Of Medicine etc. Hepatitis C (HCV) causes inflammation of the liver and can cause liver damage leading to cirrhosis. Occasionally, liver cancer may develop. First called non-A non-B hepatitis, hepatitis C was discovered in the early 1970’s, but it wasn’t until 1989 that testing for specific antibodies to the virus began. Each year, 15,000 Americans contract hepatitis C, which is a more frequent cause of chronic liver disease than hepatitis B. While at least half of the patients with acute hepatitis C become chronic, some estimate the rate as high as 80%. Who is at risk? People at risk include anyone who has had a blood transfusion, health care workers (which we intend to be in the near future), I.V.(intravenous)drug users, and hemodialysis patients. How is HCV transmitted? The virus is found in blood, semen, vaginal secretions and saliva. It may be transmitted via transfusion, sex, sharing razors, needles, toothbrushes, nail files or even a barber’s scissors. All people with HCV are potentially infectious. As many as 3.5 million people are believed to be carriers which means that they have the virus in their system and whether they have symptoms or not, they can infect others. Unlike hepatitis A and B, previous infection does not produce immunity. Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C? There is no vaccine for HCV and vaccines of other forms of hepatitis do not provide immunity against hepatitis C. What are the symptoms? Most people infected with HCV do not have symptoms. Even if they have normal liver function tests, they are called carriers. The virus is in their blood and can cause damage to the liver. Carriers can transmit the virus to others. If symptoms are present, they are usually mild and flu-like: nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, headaches, and abdominal pain. Most do not have jaundice (yellowing of the eyes), however, it can occur along with dark urine. Is there a cure? Few people are able to clear the virus from their blood, which is necessary, to be completely recovered. Over half of the cases reported each year become chronic, which means liver enzyme levels remain elevated for at least six months after the acute infection. What does chronic hepatitis mean? Chronic HCV indicates a gradual progression of the disease over 10-40 years. A

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