How many have hepatitis C? It’s estimated that there are 3.7 million in the US with hepatitis C. The incidence of acute hepatitis C infection quadrupled (!) between 2010 and 2018. Only 52% of those with chronic HCV know they have it and only 37% have received treatment.
How to screen for hepatitis C? A blood test. Any physician can order this. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends one-time HCV screening in all adults aged 18 to 79 years. In adults with ongoing risk factors, period blood work screening is suggested.
What are risk factors for hepatitis C?
- Infants born to mothers with hepatitis C
- Men who have sex with men
- Blood transfusion before 1992
- People with HIV or hepatitis B infection
- Unexplained chronic liver disease
What is chronic hepatitis C? Chronic HCV is after 6 months of infection. HCV is often insidious with few symptoms. Patients can get liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer from HCV. 25% of patients with chronic HCV develop cirrhosis, although it routinely takes 25-30 years to develop.
What is HCV treatment? Antiviral therapy. These are prescribed by GI doctors. There are multiple FDA-approved “pangenotypic” direct-acting antiviral treatments. Only 2% of patients discontinue treatment due to adverse effects from the antivirals.
If you have hepatitis C. Avoid all herbal and dietary supplements should be stopped. Avoid alcohol. Tylenol use should be at 2000 mg or less daily.
For now, it is best to know if you have hepatitis C. There is effective treatment to cure this infection.