Low Risk Behaviors - 2
Sex and Menstruation
If you have sex outside a
long-term monogamous relationship wear a condom. Research shows
risk of HCV infection for people with multiple sexual partners.
Statistics show that 20% of people treated for sexually
transmitted diseases also had HCV. Statistics also showed 20% of
the people who engaged in rough sex which included blood
exchange tested positive for HCV.
Conflicting research shows between 1 to 7% chance of infection
within a monogamous relationship. It is unclear if the virus is
transmitted through sex, sharing grooming equipment, giving
first-aid (changing a partner's bandage or dressing without
protective latex gloves) or other behaviors.
If you have sex during
menstruation wear a condom and remove it while wearing latex
gloves and place them in plastic bags. Dispose of tampons or
sanitary napkins in a similar manner.
Pregnancy and Birth
If a mother is positive for HCV,
she has a 1 to 5% chance of transmitting the virus to her baby;
and slightly higher if the mother is using intravenous drugs
during her pregnancy. If the mother has acute HCV during the
last trimester of pregnancy, there is a 44
- 88% the baby will be infected. If the mother is positive
for both HCV and HIV, she has a 35% chance of transmitting the
HCV virus to her baby. The baby can not be tested
for HCV until after his/her first birthday.
There is not enough research to
determine if breast-milk transmits HCV. Some research says it is
to breast feed and others recommend you abstain.
HCV and Alcohol
The Web Page of Dr. C. Everett
Koop, once Surgeon General of the USA, states drinking alcohol
does not transmit hepatitis C, but heavy drinking can make the
liver more susceptible to the virus. Reuters Health says
drinking while having HCV can quadruple your chances of
cirrhosis and end stage liver disease. The Canadian Hepatitis
Information Network states there is a higher level of HCV
virus found in chronic alcoholics. The amount of alcohol
consumed is proportional to the severity of liver injury. Prior
excessive use of alcohol gave a higher rate of hepatocellular
carcinoma, hindered effectiveness of treatment and resulted in
poorer survival rates.
HCV and Tobacco
Boyle states cigarette smoking increases the risk for liver
disease in patients with HCV.
The Stages of HCV Infection
Viral hepatitis is a disease as
old as the history of Medicine.
Hepatitis was described in the Babylonian Talmud in the Fifth
Century BC, and was referenced by Hippocrates over 2000 years
This disease is often called the dragon because it will drag-on
and drag-on for the rest of your life; and also because it
sleeps for many years before awaking and breathing its fiery
breath. It's name is frequently shortened to either HCV for
Hepatitis C Virus or CHC for Chronic Hepatitis C.
HCV has two stages, the acute
stage and the chronic stage.
After exposure to HCV, there is
an incubation period from 15
to 150 days. The time frame depends on the amount of virus
that entered the body; thus a needlestick injury would be less
severe then a transfusion during this phase of the disease. Most
patients have no
clinical symptoms or jaundice in this phase; thus they may
be unaware they have become infected. However, some liver
cell injury occurs during this time.
The disease becomes chronic if
the body has not cleared the HCV virus within six
months. The severity or rapidness of progress in this stage
of the disease is not based on the amount of virus that
initially infected the person. The disease quietly and
unobtrusively progresses for the next decade, or two, or three.
Up to 50% of chronic HCV patients eventually have symptoms.
However, many people never have symptoms and discover they have
chronic HCV through routine blood work or when donating blood.
What Are The Tests?
There are various tests
physicians use to diagnose HCV. The major ones are:
EIA Testing: The
initial test is the EIA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay),
an anti-HCV. This test occasionally has a false positive.
Positive results are usually followed with a more expensive,
more accurate test.
RIBA Testing: A more
sensitive test is RIBA (recombinant immunoblot assay) anti-HCV
and can identify false positive results.
HCV-RNA Testing: An
even more sensitive test than either the EIA and RIBA. It is
a RT-PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test. HCV-RNA (RT-PCR)
tests are either Qualitative or Quantitative.
Liver Function Tests:
In the past, physicians used liver enzyme tests to
potentially diagnose and determine the severity of this
disease. However, according to the Canadian
Hepatitis Information Network, "The investigators
concluded that the majority of their viremic HCV-infected
patients with persistently normal aminotransferase values
had chronic active hepatitis, and approximately 20% of these
patients had extensive fibrosis or cirrhosis." There is
a large body of knowledge that support
this theory; although the current recommended disease
management of HCV still recommends this less expensive test
to determine progress.
Liver Biopsy: The Canadian
Hepatitis Information Network says a liver biopsy is
currently the most accurate way of determining activity of
disease, extent of fibrosis and assessing prognosis. About
5-10% of the time, the liver biopsy underestimates the
amount of inflammation or scar tissue. Less than 1% of the
time the liver biopsy overestimates the amount of damage to
Symptoms of HCV - Part 1.
Most HCV symptoms are vague and
may be mistaken for other diseases or simply a consequence of
aging. Some doctors insist that HCV has no symptoms; therefore,
they dismisses their patients' complaints as "being all in
DIRECTORY TO SYMPTOMS
- Abdominal bloating
- Pronounced fluid retention
- Puffy face
- Ascites (Swelling in the stomach area)
- Swelling of the legs or feet
- Swellings under armpits, in the groin area, and around the
- Aversion to fatty foods
- Diarrhea, grey, yellow, white or light colored stools
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Frequent urination, often during the night
- Urinary problems - ie: odor, changes in coloration
- Oral/mouth sores and problems
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
Symptoms of HCV - Part 2.
- Chronic fatigue
- Sudden attacks of exhaustion
- Weakness and tiredness
FLU LIKE SYMPTOMS
- Alternate chills and fever
- Hot or cold flashes
- Hot or cold sweats
- Flu like illness
- Attention deficit disorder
- Brain Fog
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Coordination problems
- Emotional problems (especially depression)
- Memory loss
- Mental confusion
- Mental fatigue
- Mood swings
Symptoms of HCV - Part 3
- Adverse reactions to alcohol
- Excessive bleeding
- Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and/or skin)
- Lichen Planus
- Loss of libido (decline in sex drive)
- Menstrual problems (irregular periods, cramping, PMS)
- Red palms
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Slow healing and recovery
- Susceptibility to illness
OTHER DISEASE ASSOCIATED WITH HCV
- Autoimmune Disease
- B-cell Lymphoma
- Erythema Multiforme
- Erythema Nodosum
- Mixed Cryoglobulinemia
- Mooren Corneal Ulcers
- Porphyria Cutanea Tarda