Low Risk Behaviors - 2


Sex and Menstruation

If you have sex outside a long-term monogamous relationship wear a condom. Research shows an increased 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 safe 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

Brian 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 ago.

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.

Acute HCV

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.

Chronic HCV

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 the liver.


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 their heads."




  • 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 neck


  • 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
  • Gallstones
  • Gas
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • 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


  • Alternate chills and fever
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Hot or cold sweats
  • Flu like illness


  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Brain Fog
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Coordination problems
  • Emotional problems (especially depression)
  • Irritability
  • 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


  • Autoimmune Disease
  • B-cell Lymphoma
  • Diabetes
  • Erythema Multiforme
  • Erythema Nodosum
  • Fibromylasia
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Mixed Cryoglobulinemia
  • Mooren Corneal Ulcers
  • Polyarteritis
  • Polymyalgia
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Thyroiditis
  • Urticaria