Hepatitis C is a liver disease which is caused by hepatitis-C virus. Hepatitis-C virus is a blood borne virus. This virus can cause both acute and chronic hepatitis infections, ranging in severity from a mild illness which last few weeks to a serious which can be a lifetime.
Risk of Hepatitis C
The people who are at high risk of getting Hepatitis C include:
- People who inject drugs
- People with HIV infection
- People who have had tattoos on their bodies
- Children born to mothers who are infected with hepatitis-C virus
Transmission of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is most commonly transmitted through the following ways:
- Re using of medical equipment such as syringes and needles
- Transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products
The hepatitis-C virus is not spread through breast milk, water or by casual contact such as kissing, sharing food or drinks, hugging with an infected person. But it can be transmitted sexually and can be passed from an infected mother to her child, however its very rare.
Symptoms of Hepatitis C
Some people having hepatitis C do not have any symptoms, but those who are acutely infected may have symptoms like:
- Dark urine
- Joint Pain
- Jaundice (turns skin or eyes yellow)
- Grey colored feces
Prevention of Hepatitis C
Yet, there is no vaccine for Hepatitis-C virus, therefore prevention of Hepatitis C virus infection depends upon reducing the risk which is recommended by the World Health Organization:
- Test donated blood for hepatitis-C (as well as HIV)
- Promotion of consistent and correct use of condemns
- Safe handling and disposal of waste
Treatment of Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C does not require any treatment as the immune system in some people will clear the infection and some people with the chronic infection do not develop liver damage.
When the treatment is required, the goal of treatment is cure. The cure depends on several factors such as strain of the virus and type of treatment. Hepatitis-C treatment was based on therapy with ribavirin and interferon, which required injections for almost 9 to 10 months. This therapy cures only a little and causes life threatening reactions.
Recently, a new antiviral drug has been developed. These are much effective, safer than older therapies. Therapy with a direct antiviral agent can cure most people with hepatitis-c virus and this treatment is shorter that last for 12 weeks.
The production cost of these medicines is very low, but it remains quite expensive in developing countries. The prices have dropped due to introduction of generic versions of these medicines in the markets.
There is not any vaccine for Hepatitis-C such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. But researchers are on their way to develop vaccine for Hepatitis-C.