5 Myths and Facts About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C (HCV) is frequently transferred through blood or needles and unprotected sex. HCV symptoms are almost identical to those of other kinds of hepatitis. There is currently no vaccine available for Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a severe condition that can damage the liver and lead to various liver conditions, including cirrhosis, liver failure, and cancer. Despite this, most persons with hepatitis C are unaware that they are afflicted. Infection with the hepatitis C virus, which affects an estimated 3.9 million people in the United States, is much more common now but a preventable cause of liver cancer. There is much disinformation about Hepatitis C, and the public opinion is quite negative. People are even hesitant to seek therapy that could save their lives because of their beliefs about the virus.

MYTHS

Myth #1: I’ve never used intravenous drugs, so I’m not at risk.

History suggests that injecting drugs or sharing injectables of illicit substances increases the risk of hepatitis C and is the most prevalent transmission mode in the world. Needlestick injuries and receiving contaminated blood or blood products are the most common additional means of transmission. Hepatitis C can also be contracted by sharing personal objects contaminated with infected blood and toothbrushes or razors or having unprotected sex with someone who has the virus. The babies of the infected mothers are also at high risk.

Myth #2: Hepatitis C can be spread through casual contact.

Luckily, hepatitis C is extremely unlikely to be transmitted through everyday tasks. Because hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus, you’d need to come into contact with infected blood. You do not need to be concerned about the virus spreading through hugging, hand-holding, sneezing, or coughing.

Myth#3: If You Have Hepatitis C, You’ll Know It Right Away.

The center for disease control (CDC) reports that approximately 20 to 30% of those infected with hepatitis C will show symptoms of the virus soon after infection. Moreover, symptoms like weariness or abdominal discomfort are often moderate or nonspecific, and you may be hesitant to seek medical help. In many cases, viruses are usually identified years after first infection. Most patients only find out they have it after being tested for hepatitis C or after having major health problems like cirrhosis (liver scarring), liver cancer, or kidney diseases.

Myth#4: There’s No Effective Treatment for Hepatitis C.

The treatment of hepatitis C was not very successful, and not many patients responded to it. However, with time things have changed. According to the CDC, many antiviral medicines are available on the market, and approximately 90% of hepatitis C patients can be cured with 8 to 12 weeks of treatment.

The unwanted effects of new medicines are lesser compared to older medications. Therefore, it is better to consult a doctor and initiate therapy if tested positive for hepatitis C. Moreover, in such a situation, there is a need to be tested for chronic liver disease.

Myth#5: There’s a Vaccine for Hepatitis C.

There is no vaccine available to prevent hepatitis C. However, vaccines for hepatitis A and B are available on the market. The CDC advises that patients with hepatitis C  see a doctor to get tested and vaccinated for hepatitis A and B, as these infections can increase your risk of liver disease. According to the CDC, the most prevalent strategy to prevent hepatitis C nowadays is to avoid sharing injectable drug equipment with others. Getting an unauthorized tattoo or sharing personal goods with contaminated blood, such as razors or toothbrushes, can also spread the infection. The infection can be treated with appropriate therapy.

FACTS

Fact#1: You can be cured of hepatitis C.

Other viruses might cause cancer in addition to Hepatitis C. All of the viruses have effective therapies, and drugs known as direct-acting antivirals are used to cure hepatitis C. There are seven different classes of these drugs that can treat hepatitis C. Moreover, if you appropriately take medicine, the cure rate is more than 90%. The objective is to have people tested for the virus and then treated if they are positive. Hepatitis C cannot be cured in patients who refuse to seek therapy.

Fact#2: Hepatitis C can lead to liver cancer.

Liver cancer is common due to chronic infections with hepatitis B and C. However, not all cases of Hepatitis C result in cancer. According to experts, if you’ve had the virus for more than 30 years and develop cirrhosis of the liver, your risk of cancer increases by 1 to 5% per year.

Fact #3: You can still spread the virus if you don’t have symptoms.

Almost 80% of patients with acute hepatitis C do not even show any signs or symptoms. Cirrhosis occurs when a chronic hepatitis C infection has been present for a long time. This implies that you should take preventive measures regardless of how you are physically feeling.

Although there’s minimal danger of transmitting the virus via sexual contact, caution is always recommended when having sex. Additionally, despite the minimal risk of transmission through razors or toothbrushes, do not share any of this personal cleaning equipment.

Fact #4: Hepatitis C is almost entirely transmitted through blood.

Hepatitis C is not passed via the air, and a mosquito bite cannot transmit it. Similarly, it cannot be transferred through coughing, sneezing, sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses, kissing, nursing, or being near someone in the same room.

However, receiving a tattoo or body piercing in an unsafe facility, using a contaminated syringe, or being punctured by an unhygienic needle in a healthcare setting may lead to hepatitis C infection. Hepatitis C can also be passed to babies if their mothers have the virus.

Fact #5: There’s more than one way you can be exposed to the virus.

Hepatitis C is often misunderstood as a disease that only drug users may get. Similarly, some individuals with a history of intravenous drug use have been diagnosed with hepatitis C; the virus may be transmitted in various ways.

Persons who had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992, people on hemodialysis for their kidneys, and people living with HIV are at higher risk for hepatitis C.

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