Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus. The incubation period range from 2 weeks to 6 months. Compared to other forms of viral hipetatis, hipetatis C often goes unnoticed and develops into chronic disease (80% cases), posing a severe threat to liver health.
Hepatitis C can be classified into 6 different genotypes, with genotypes 2 and 3 having a better prognosis over genotype 1. over time, it may be lead to complications including cirrhosis (scarring of liver), liver failure and liver cancer. Early diagnosis and treatment helps to limit disease progression and its complications.
Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease, it is commonly transmitted through
- Sharing needles
- Sharing personal accessories (e.g. toothbrushes, razors)
- Exposure to inadequately sterilized medical equipment
- Contact with infected blood
- Tattooing and body piercing procedures (e.g nose piercing)
- Unprotected sex
Nowadays, transfusion-related infections are extremely rare due to universal blood donor testing. In addition, hepatitis C cannot be transmitted through breast milk, casual contact (e.g hugging and kissing) or sharing food and drinks, therefore, disease carriers can carry out their work and activities as normal
Currently, there is no vaccination against hepatitis C, but the risk cabn be reduced by the following methods :
- Avoid sharing personal accessories (e.g. toothbrushes, razors)
- Avoid high risk activities (e.g. tattooing, body piercing)
- Good personal hygiene (e.g. hand washing)
- Safe handing and disposal of sharps, blood and waste
- Use a condom while having sex
- Use sterile syringes for injections
If you are infected with hepatitis C, please seek advice from healthcare professionals. Besides early antiviral treatment, you should also be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B for further protection.
Are you at risk?
There is increased risk of infection for people who :
- Were born between 1945 and 1975
- Lived in high-prevalent countries, including the Middle East, South Asia, Eastern and Southern Europe
- Abuse drugs
- Tried tattooing or body piercing (e.g. nose piercing)
- Were born from an infected mother
- Have an infected-sex partner
- Are infected with HIV
- Received blood products or undergo invasive procedures without adequate infection-control mensures
The incubation period of hepatitis C ranges from 2 weeks to 6 months. During acute infection, most patients (80%) actually feel quite healthy while some may experience rashes or joint pains. In cases of liver damage, the following symptoms may appear.
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dark urine
- Grey-colored stoot
- Abdominal and joint pain
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
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