At Deer Park Medical Centre, Our Doctors are accredited prescribers to the necessary treatment for Hep C.
An estimated 230,000 Australians are infected with Chronic Hep C, but most people aren't aware that there are now simple and effective treatments which are both inexpensive and generally well tolerated to cure Hep C in most people.
In the past few years, many thousands of people have discovered that they have been infected with the virus which causes hepatitis C. This disease, which is an inflammation of the liver, may show up as an acute flu-like illness with fever and nausea. Some affected people develop jaundice: a yellow discolouration of the skin and whites of the eyes. But for many, hepatitis C is a ‘silent’ infection with no apparent ill health at the time it is caught. It may be discovered by chance when routine blood tests show the presence of antibodies to the virus.
It is not always possible to know how you got hepatitis C. The virus usually spreads when blood from an infected person enters the bloodstream of someone else. Before the virus was discovered, many people were infected through blood transfusions. This no longer happens because donated blood is now tested for the virus. These days most cases are due to the sharing of needles by intravenous drug users. Other causes include the use of unclean equipment for tattooing and body piercing. It is possible, but uncommon, for the disease to spread through using the razor blade or toothbrush of an infected person. Although it appears to be very unlikely that hepatitis C can be transmitted through sexual intercourse, it is sensible to use condoms if one partner is known to carry the virus.
For some people, there are no long-term consequences of hepatitis C infection. But about half of those affected might eventually develop chronic damage to the liver, leading to cirrhosis (scarring) and possibly liver cancer.
Treatment of hepatitis C consists of regular tests to see if the virus is active and to make sure the liver is not being damaged. It is important to avoid further damage to the liver from toxins such as alcohol and other types of hepatitis virus. People not already immune to hepatitis A and B should be vaccinated against these diseases. Treatment with medications — pegylated interferon and ribavirin — is increasingly used. Liver transplantation may also be offered to extremely severe cases.
The message is simple. You can avoid a potentially life-threatening disease by taking care not to share needles, avoiding tattoos or body piercing unless you know the equipment has been properly sterilised, not sharing razors or toothbrushes and practising safe sex.
Copyright: MIMS Australia, 2014. All rights reserved.