May is Hepatitis Awareness Month & Hepatitis Testing Day
May 9, 2018 | By admin
May is Hepatitis Awareness Month in the US, and May 19th is Hepatitis Testing Day. At Thrive Home Care, we want to raise awareness and highlight an abstruse epidemic that affects many people, especially individuals who are seniors and those in the medical and non-medical field. Learn more about the symptoms of the disease, Hepatitis C prevention and where to get tested and vaccinated for Hepatitis C.
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is a severe liver disease that is stemmed from an infection with the Hepatitis C virus. Known as the ‘silent epidemic,’ Hepatitis C is a disease that is usually untreated because most people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected. Although some people who are infected with Hepatitis C are able to clear and heal from the virus, most people experience a chronic, and sometimes life-long infection. Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis of the liver, organ failure or even cancer of the liver. There are treatments and medication options for people with Hepatitis C to use that can help manage and even eliminate the virus from the body and prevent further damage to the liver. Diagnose, a proactive and preventative care can account for the success in the health of a person with Hepatitis C.
Who is susceptable to Hepatitis C?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) made an announcement in 2012 that people who were born between 1945 and 1965 should be tested for Hepatitis C. Anyone and everyone can be at risk of contracting Hepatitis C, but research show that up to 75% of adults infected with Hepatitis C were born between the years 1945 and 1965–the Baby Boomer generation. It is still unknown why the Baby Boomers have high rates of Hepatitis C. However, there is a consideration that the infection may have been transmitted in the 1970s and 1980s, the period which Hepatitis C was at its peak.
How do you get Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is commonly spread when an infected person’s blood enters the body of an individual who is not infected. Prior to the widespread screening of blood supply, which began in 1992, Hepatitis C is commonly spread through blood transfusions or organ transplant. Sharing needles or other apparatus to inject drugs, as well as piercings or tattoos received from unlicensed or informal facilities that do not adhere to sterilization procedures is still a very efficient way to transmit the virus.
Common misconception about Hepatitis C transmission
Because of lack of awareness and education, many people do not know that, although Hepatitis C is contagious, Hepatitis C is not transmitted easily:
- Not transmitted through casual contact
- Not transmitted through kissing
- Not transmitted through hugging
- Not transmitted through sneezing
- Not transmitted through coughing
- Not transmitted through breastfeeding
- Not transmitted through sharing of food and/or utencils
- Not transmitted through sharing of utensils or glasses
What are the symptoms of Hepatitis C?
Many people who have Hepatitis C do not know they are infected. Decades may pass and a person who is infected wouldn’t even feel the symptoms or feel sick. Unfortunately when symptoms do appear, it is often a sign of advanced liver disease. The symptoms of Hepatitis C can include the following:
- • Fever
- • Fatigue
- • Appetite Loss
- • Nausea
- • Vomiting
- • Pain in the Abdomen
- • Dark Urine & Gray-colored stools
- • Joint Pain
- • Jaundice
Consult with your primary physician if you have been experiencing these symptoms.
Prevention and how to be proactive
There is no vaccine that can prevent Hepatitis C infection from occurring, however there are may proactive measures you can do to prevent becoming infected with Hepatitis C.
- Never share needles with other people. Drugs that are administered intravenously are a great risk of passing along the Hepatitis C infection. Aside from needles, other drug paraphernalia can also transmit the infection.
- Avoid direct contact and exposure to blood or blood products/equipment. Individuals, in the medical field, even Caregivers, should take precautionary measures to avoid coming in direct contact with blood. Any equipment that has been in contact with blood must be safely discarded or properly sterilized to prevent Hepatitis C infection.
- Don’t share personal care items. Examples of personal items include shaving equipment, toothbrushes, nail clippers, hair clippers and scissors. Even small amounts of blood can potentially infect someone. If you are already infected with Hepatitis C, make sure to keep your personal items separate and out of reach from other individuals.
- Only go to a reputable tattoo and piercing parlors. Licensed parlors and artists follow appropriate sanitary procedures. Use only new, disposable needles and new ink for each session. When in doubt, inquire about the parlor’s disposable products and sanitary procedures before getting a tattoo or piercing.
- Practice sanitary measures and a clean habit. It’s the simplest and easiest form of proactive prevention practice to avoid transmission or becoming infected with Hepatitis C.
- Educate yourself and be an advocate for Hepatitis C prevention. There are many avenues to learn more about Hepatitis C and how to prevent the infection from spreading. Organizations like the Center for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Hepatitis C Association are a great resource for support and education.
- Join support groups or seek help. Join a local support group and talk to your friends and family if you are infected with Hepatitis C.
- Get tested! Getting tested is the first step to being proactive in preventing infection or spreading the Hepatitis C infection. The national day for Hepatitis C testing is May 19th.
More information for you and your loved ones
• Click here to find free, fast, and confidential testing in your area
• Click here to read CDC’s Fact sheet about Hepatitis C (english)
• Click here to read VA’s Introductory Guide for Patients Booklet
• Click here to watch VA’s Videos on Living with Hepatitis C
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