Hepatitis C is a serious illness that attacks the liver and causes inflammation to the area. People with the disease can go for years without knowing the condition is present. Most people do not know the disease is present until medical tests confirm it.
The disease is one of many types of hepatitis viruses that are the most dangerous. The virus is usually spread by the sharing of contaminated drug needles. When the signs and symptoms appear in those affected with the condition the signs are usually mild. Most often a person experiences flu-like systems, fatigue, joint pain, nausea and loss of appetite.
After a period of 20 years a person with hepatitis C infection may develop cirrhosis of the liver, this is scarring in the liver which makes it difficult for your liver to function. The virus is found in the liver in about 8o percent of individuals who are infected. Cirrhosis is common in those who are co-infected with hepatitis B, HIV or are alcoholics. The condition is most often seen in men. Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants. There is no vaccine available to prevent the condition from happening.
Blood tests are done to find out if a person has hepatitis C. The EIA assay detects the virus in a person's antibody. Genetic testing is usually done to look for the hepatitis C genotype. There are 6 different genotypes that exist. A health care provider is better able to choose a type of treatment with the right testing. Most people with the infection have genotype 1 which is the most difficult type to treat. Genotype 2 and 3 are easier to treat. Millions of people live with hepatitis C and many do not know they have it. It is important to have a health care provider check for the disease if it is suspected.
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