HEPATITIS C – An Infection You May Have And Never Know Until You Get Tested
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by viruses and can lead to serious health consequences. There are several different forms of the virus, including types A, B, C, D, E, and G.
The most common types of viral hepatitis in Canada are hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis A virus (HAV) is most often spread through contact with food or water contaminated with the virus.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are both spread through contact with contaminated blood, and HBV is also sexually transmitted. Often called a "silent disease," hepatitis C usually reveals no specific signs or symptoms and remains rarely diagnosed until its chronic stages when it has already caused severe liver disease. In fact, when left untreated, hepatitis C may lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, the need for liver transplantation and even death. In Canada, about 600,000 people are living with HBV and/or HCV.
Hep C currently has no vaccination to protect people from contracting the virus unlike the other two types of Hepatitis found in Canada. Prevention then becomes the only way for protection.
Following infection with a hepatitis virus, some people may experience symptoms such as fatigue and jaundice, but many people do not feel ill at all and remain unaware of their infection.
WAYS YOU CAN CONTRACT HEPATITIS C
- Sharing of personal care and hygiene items such as razors, toothbrushes, clippers and scissors with someone living with the virus
- Sharing needles, tattoo ink and ink pots used for body tattoos and piercings
- Sharing drug equipment such as needles, filters, tourniquets, water, syringes, cookers, alcohol swabs, acidifiers, crack pipes and/or straws
- Receive blood and body organs that have not been screened for Hepatitis C. Even in Canada, if you received blood and organ donations before 1990 you may be at risk of contracting hepatitis
- If you were involved in medical procedures including immunization in hepatitis C endemic countries
- Unprotected sexual intercourse- minimal risk of transmission
- Accidental or occupational exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
- Born to a mother living with the virus at the time of her pregnancy or delivery
You cannot contract hepatitis C by associating casually with people living with the virus. Hugging and shaking hands with someone or just being around people living with hepatitis C does not transmit the virus.
If you think you might be at risk of infection, whether recently or in the past, see your healthcare provider to have a blood test done. There is treatment for hepatitis C infection.
There are healthcare organizations across the Region of Peel where you can get tested for hepatitis C and also access treatment, care and or support. You can contact with Bloom Clinic at 40 Finchgate Blvd, Brampton ON L6T3J1, Tel: 905-451-8090 ext 246 or firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. Or visit us at www.bloomclinic.ca
1 Source: World Health Organization Fact Sheet #164, July2012
Credit to: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hep/