Hepatitis C is viral Hepatitis infection caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Referring to data provided by Department of Health, Hong Kong, it is estimated that about 0.5% of the population is infected with the virus.
Yet the prevalence of HCV among injecting drug abusers in high.
Hepatitis C is mainly transmitted through blood, including blood transfusion and the use of needles and syringes used by others injecting drugs; but it could also be transmitted when having unprotected sex with an infected person, or from mother-to-child transmission.
The vast majority of people who get Hepatitis C have no symptoms and become carriers for the rest of their lives.
Most people infected with HCV (about 80%) cannot completely clear the virus and develop chronic hepatitis, which puts them at risk for developing many complication, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, which is one of the cause of fatal cancer in Hong Kong.
In general, it takes medication from 6 to 12 months.
The successful rate of treatment is determined by factors including what type of Hepatitis C virus you have (its genotype) and if you have other disease such as HBV or HIV at the same time, etc.
Currently, taking a combination of two drugs, Peginterferon and Ribivirin, is the standard treatment for chronic Hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C carrier should quit drinking alcohol, having vaccination of Hepatitis A and B to prevent infection and other liver damage.
Since there is no sign and symptom for Hepatitis C infection, receiving Hepatitis C antibody test is the best way for early detection.
“What if I got Hepatitis C?”
Once you get the result as having Hepatitis C, there will probably be many things running through your mind. There are many things that people with Hepatitis C can do to keep themselves healthy and feeling well as Hepatitis C is a slow-moving chronic disease, so most likely you will still have a lot of time to make decisions about your health. Here’re the things you can do to stay healthy:
- See your health-care provider for regular check-up. Make sure you tell your health-care provider about any problems or symptoms you are having.
- Eating a healthy, low-fat, low salt diet, and drinking lots of water. Include a lot of vegetables and fruits; try to stay away from too much sugar and fat.
- Rest when you are tired. Try to find time during the day for a short nap or times you can relax.
- Do moderate exercise regularly. Walking is one of the best exercise, and it helps to make you feel less tired.
- Get the Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines if you have not already been infected. You don’t want to get another illness that might make your liver worse so ask your healthcare provider if you need to be vaccinated.
- The most harmful thing for your liver is alcohol, so it’s important to reduce your alcohol intake as much as you can, or stop it down totally. If you can’t stop drinking alcohol, cut down, and ask for help on ways to stop drinking alcohol.
- Be careful when mixing alcohol, drugs or herbs.
- Talk with people who care about you and ask for support. Think about whom you want to tell, why you want to tell them, how you will tell them, and when and where you will tell them.
- Try not to worry too much.
- Remember: even if you have Hepatitis C, you are not alone. We are here to support you, and accompany you along the road.