Health: What is Hepatitis C and Why You Should Care!

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May is Hepatitis C Awareness Month and Thursday, May 19th is National Testing Day.

Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C has been called a silent epidemic because most people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected.

While some people who get infected with Hepatitis C are able to clear, or get rid of, the virus, most people who get infected develop a chronic, or lifelong, infection. Over time, chronic Hepatitis C can lead to serious liver problems including liver damage, cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. But many people can benefit from available treatment options that can eliminate the virus from the body and prevent further liver damage.

While anyone can get Hepatitis C, more than 75% of adults infected are baby boomers, people born from 1945 through 1965. That’s us ladies! Most people with Hepatitis C don’t know they are infected.The reason that baby boomers have high rates of Hepatitis C is not completely understood. Most boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of Hepatitis C were the highest. Since people with Hepatitis C can live for decades without symptoms, many baby boomers are unknowingly living with an infection they got many years ago. Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. Many baby boomers could have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening of the blood supply in 1992 and universal precautions were adopted. Still, many baby boomers do not know how or when they were infected.

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What is Hepatitis C and Why You Should Care

Quest Diagnostics is launching a digital campaign to build awareness among baby boomers about the need to be tested for Hepatitis C, and drive test requests. Watch this video.

Symptoms

Many people with chronic Hepatitis C do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. People with chronic Hepatitis C can live for decades without symptoms or feeling sick.

When symptoms do appear, they often are a sign of advanced liver disease. Symptoms of Hepatitis C can include: fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored stools, joint pain and/or jaundice.

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Information on Testing

The only way to know if someone has Hepatitis C is to get tested. Doctors use a blood test, called a Hepatitis C Antibody Test, to find out if a person has ever been infected with Hepatitis C. The Hepatitis C Antibody Test looks for antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus. Antibodies are chemicals released into the bloodstream when someone gets infected. The antibody test results will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to come back, although new Rapid Antibody Tests are available in some settings.

  • A Non-reactive or a negative Hepatitis C antibody test result means that a person does not have Hepatitis C. However, if a person has been recently exposed to the Hepatitis C virus, he or she will need to be tested again.
  • A Reactive or a positive Hepatitis C antibody test result means that Hepatitis C antibodies were found in the blood and a person has been infected with the Hepatitis C virus at some point in time.A reactive antibody test does not necessarily mean a person still has Hepatitis C. Once people have been infected, they will always have antibodies in their blood. This is true if even if they have cleared the Hepatitis C virus. A reactive antibody test requires an additional, follow-up test to determine if a person is currently infected with Hepatitis C.

If you are a Baby Boomer, make sure to ask your doctor about getting tested for HepC.

I am participating in a VIN campaign for Quest Diagnostics. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Quest Diagnostics and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.

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Comments

  1. Allison @neversaydiebeauty says

    Definitely important to know about

  2. This is an important health topic that I think doesn’t get covered enough.

  3. Jeanette says

    I didn’t know it was this bad and that it could take that long to show symptoms! WOW!! I learned something here!

  4. This is such an important topic especially for those born during 1945 through 1965. I’m a baby boomer myself, born in 1962 and I decided to have myself checked. Early detection saves life.

  5. Jamie Yonash says

    Wow, I had no idea that the numbers could be so high. This is a great campaign and I hope people will do the testing and get treatment!!

  6. Thank you for this comprehensive and very informative post on Hepatitis C. I can share this with aunts and uncles, and friends too who are baby boomers!

  7. It’s so crazy that you can go so long without knowing!

  8. This is actually very good info, I didn’t know that Hepatitis C can be undetectable until it decides to strike. It’s good to be aware and have yourself checked.

  9. I always thought that when my doctor had me do a full blood workup that it would cover Hepatitis. Now I’ll have to double check.

  10. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. It’s good to know treatment can help if you catch it early. Getting checked out is so important.

  12. adriana nudo says

    It is so important to be aware of things like this! Great post!

  13. I won’t lie, I don’t (or didn’t) know much about Hep C, so thank you for sharing.

  14. Early detection is key. I have heard of Hepatitis C, but I didn’t know that it has no symptoms and that a lot of people are not aware they have it.

  15. Karlyn Flores says

    Such an important topic its important to know the symptoms

  16. Ryan Escat says

    Oh, I am not aware of this kind of hepatitis. It is very important to take the test so to detect earlier. This is a great post!

  17. Early detection is always best.

  18. am glad that you shared this post.It important to know more about these diseases .

  19. This is very important to know and to be tested for. Thank you for sharing!

  20. I think this is such an important topic. Everyone needs to make sure they’re always getting tested. I go in every year and get my yearly check ups and tests.

  21. Nicole Escat says

    Hepatitis is a scary disease. This is important to know. I hope this raises a lot of awareness.

  22. Karla Ramos says

    One of my friend’s brother also had Hepatitis C, and it’s true, there were no symptoms. Only a regular checkup revealed what was hidden! These medical information are a must when it comes passing and sharing.

  23. This is a scary disease and we try to read up on so many since my husband deals with transients daily in his job. It’s always good to get tested for a variety of different things.

  24. This is some really great information on Hepatitis. I didn’t know this was something people just get tested for – that’s good information.