Hepatitis C: Catch It, Before It Catches You…
How Do You Get It?
• Sharing drugs and needles
• Having sex, especially if you have an STD, an HIV infection, several partners, or have rough sex
• Being stuck by infected needles
• Birth -- a mother can pass it to a child
• Hepatitis C isn’t spread through food, water, or by casual contact.
Who is at Risk of having this infection ?
Health care workers
Previous blood transfusions / surgery/dental procedures
IV drug users
Reusing needle and syringes
Multiple sexual partners
How Is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?
• You can get a blood test to see if you have the hepatitis C virus.
• If your screening test is positive ( AntiHCV ) it simply means that you were exposed to the virus and does not indicate active infection.
• If the AntiHCV is positive, you will need confirmatory tests such as HCV RNA to confirm whether you have the infection
• Also there are different genotypes of HCV infection( 1,2, 3, 4, 5,6) , In India Genotype 3 is the commonest . The genotype of the HCV infection is important as it determines which medication will work best to treat the infection
What happens if you have active HCV infection ? Is there curative treatment ?
• You will need to see a Liver specialist
• The doctor will assess the degree of Liver damage with help of blood tests such as LFTS, HCV RNA viral load and Fibroscan ( bed side test used instead of Liver biopsy to assess degree of Fibrosis ).
• The HCV RNA can be treated using effective antiviral medication( Ledipasvir, sofosbuvir, Daclatasvir ) for 12 -24 weeks . This is an all oral regime with a very good response rate approximately > 90 % in most cases . These medications are safe and do not produce much adverse reactions . The newer medication is available in India at a much lower rate compared to Western countries where it can cost 80000 USD . In India the monthly cost has reduced to < 20000 INR . Previously, Injectable Peglated interferon was used along with ribavirin with a poor response and higher chance of side –effects .