Hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus (HCV) that infects the liver. If it is not diagnosed early enough, and the correct treatment provided, liver damage as well as cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure can result. If discovered early enough it can be treated and cured, but it is often asymptomatic, meaning the symptoms don’t immediately show up.
One of the principal problems with Hepatitis C is that it can lie undetected for many years, the sufferer unable to recognise that he or she has a problem.
How is it contracted?
In the west the baby boomer generation (those born before 1965 are the most likely to be at risk of having Hepatitis C, either because pre-1992 blood screening was less widespread (so if they received transfusions or blood products of any kind they would vulnerable) or from injecting drugs (even if only once).
In other countries a visit to something as mundane as the dentist, the barbers for a shave, a beauty saloon for a manicure could have put people at risk if the dentist, barber, saloon owner had not adopted proper sterilization techniques. In some parts of the world people have contracted it through Government sponsored vaccination campaigns where needles were re-used without the proper sterilization techniques.
Living with Hepatitis C
As previously mentioned, it can sometime take a long time for Hepatitis C to manifest itself, or even if people have the symptoms it is a while before they get the diagnosis, by this time they may already have some liver damage.
Some people who get hepatitis C have it for a short time and then get better. This is called acute hepatitis C. But the majority infected with the virus go on to develop long-term, or chronic, hepatitis C.
But, even these people for these people there is hope, and indeed solutions for them to go on and lead a full, active and productive life.