is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a virus which affects humans.
Of those exposed to HCV some will clear the virus, however the majority
will have long-term chronic infection. Most people infected with HCV
don't know that they have it and may be asymptomatic. In others symptoms
take an average 11 years to 20 years to develop. Many with chronic
infection don't have any noticeable symptoms or liver damage at all
and remain well, however are infectious and should take care to reduce
any risk of transmitting the virus to others. The major way HCV is
spread is through contact with infected blood.
the liver in the majority of cases. Symptoms may include tiredness,
abdominal discomfort and nausea. Currently there is no way to predict
what will happen for any one person, and symptoms may be disproportionately
disabling compared to the amount of liver damage.
The cause of
fatigue associated with hepatitis C is not yet fully understand, however
alcohol use exacerbates any damage caused by HCV.
chronic infection may result in permanent scarring of the liver called
cirrhosis. This is not life-threatening in itself but after a further
5 to 10 years, extensive cirrhosis may result in liver failure or
cancer of the liver.
In Australia, the prevalence of people with the virus is estimated
at between 0.5% and 1%. This means about one in every 100 people carry
the virus. In the USA the prevalence is estimated to be 1.5% , that
is 4 million people have HCV. Prevalence varies from region to region,
China having around 4%, and Egypt having 18% of the population affected.
World wide it is estimated that 200 million
people are HCV carriers.
The Hepatitis C Virus will cause many more deaths than HIV.
If you think you may have HCV see your doctor.