Hugs and Kisses: Dismissing Hepatitis C Myths

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  • What Is Hepatitis C?

    What Is Hepatitis C?

    Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is caused by a virus. There are other types of hepatitis, but hepatitis C has the potential to be the most serious. If not treated, it can cause serious liver damage and other health problems. Unfortunately, there are many myths and misunderstandings about the disease, how it’s transmitted, and how it’s treated.

    Click through the slideshow to learn the truth about hepatitis C.

  • Myth: Casual Contact Can Spread the Disease

    Myth: Casual Contact Can Spread the Disease

    A hug from someone with hepatitis C won’t put you in danger of becoming infected. The disease is spread when you come in contact with the blood of someone with hepatitis C. The most common ways this happens is sharing needles and syringes with an infected person, or being born to a mother with hepatitis C. Of course, there are other ways to be exposed to someone’s blood. Sexual contact may also lead to transmission of the disease.

  • Myth: Hepatitis C Is Incurable

    Myth: Hepatitis C Is Incurable

    Hepatitis C can be a chronic disease. But, medication breakthroughs make it much more treatable. If the disease is diagnosed early, a combination of medications, fluids, and rest can eliminate the virus. But if the hepatitis C virus has been in the body for a long time, a much more involved treatment plan is required.

    You may be able to eventually rid your body of the infection if you follow your doctor’s guidance and take your medication as prescribed.

  • Myth: I Never Used Drugs, So I Don’t Need to Get Screened

    Myth: I Never Used Drugs, So I Don’t Need to Get Screened

    Drug users who shared needles are certainly at high risk for hepatitis C. But many other people are also at risk. For example, if you got a tattoo with unsterile tools, were a health care worker who handled blood donations, or had direct contact with blood, you are at risk. If you received blood prior to 1992, you are also at risk. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all “baby boomers” get screened for hepatitis C, just to be safe.

  • Myth: Hepatitis C Symptoms Show Up Right Away

    Myth: Hepatitis C Symptoms Show Up Right Away

    Some people with hepatitis C have no noticeable symptoms for years after they become infected. And, about 70 to 80 percent of people with acute hepatitis C have no noticeable symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they can include:

    • fever
    • nausea
    • grey stools
    • dark urine
    • jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and of the whites of the eyes)
    • abdominal pain
    • pain in your joints and muscles

  • Myth: Testing for Hepatitis C Is Complicated and Time Consuming

    Myth: Testing for Hepatitis C Is Complicated and Time Consuming

    A simple blood test can show whether you have antibodies for the hepatitis C virus. Antibodies are proteins the body produces to fight a virus. If your blood test shows that you have hepatitis C antibodies, a second blood test will usually be ordered to confirm the presence of the virus.

    An initial positive test could just indicate exposure to the virus, but not an infection of the liver. Exposure to the virus isn’t always enough to contract hepatitis C.

  • Myth: You Can Just Get a Vaccine to Prevent Getting Hepatitis C

    Myth: You Can Just Get a Vaccine to Prevent Getting Hepatitis C

    Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to protect against the hepatitis C virus. But there are vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and hepatitis B. These vaccines can be given to children or adults.

    If you have hepatitis C and liver damage, you should check with your doctor before getting the hepatitis A or B vaccines. This is also true for other prescription and over-the-counter medications.

  • Get the Facts

    Get the Facts

    Talk with your doctor about being tested if you’re considered at risk for hepatitis C or you have symptoms of the disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with hepatitis C, make sure you’re following your doctor’s treatment plan.

    Get a second opinion if you’re not happy with your treatment. The more information you have about hepatitis C, the more likely you’ll be to prevent it from harming you and your health.

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