What is HCV?
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a virus, spread by contaminated blood, that attacks the liver and leads to inflammation. HCV is spread from blood to blood contact and commonly affects people who inject drugs (PWID). It can also be transmitted through sexual contact, although it is very rare. Some people get a short term, or acute, infection and are able to clear the virus. However, 80% of people who get infected develop a chronic infection. Hepatitis C is curable, and there are multiple medications for treatment of HCV with up to a 97% success rate.
Who is at risk for Hepatitis C/HCV?
- People who use drugs intravenously (specifically people who share syringes and other works)
- People who received a blood transfusion before 1992 (testing transfusion blood for HCV was not common practice until 1992)
- People who have gotten at home tattoos or piercings
- Health care workers who regularly come into contact with blood
How is Hepatitis transmitted?
HCV is transferred from blood to blood contact from a person who is already infected with the virus. It is commonly transferred during intravenous drug use. HCV can survive outside of the body on surfaces for up to 42 days and in a syringe for up to 62 days. It was once believed that a person could contract HCV from themselves by reusing their own syringe, but that has been proven to be untrue. A common way to avoid getting HCV is to use a new syringe every time, and to avoid sharing syringes, or any other works with anyone.
How many people are living with Hepatitis C?
An estimated 2.4 million people in the United States were living with hepatitis C from 2013 to 2016. Out of 100,000 Oklahomans an estimated 1,820 have HCV, and 14 have died of HCV complications such as cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.
What are Hepatitis C symptoms?
Most people who contract HCV do not have any symptoms, or they are infected for years before they start to feel any symptoms. This is why it’s important to get tested for HCV, if you have any risk factors, even if you’re not experiencing any symptoms. Common symptoms for HCV include:
- Poor Appetite
- Joint Pain
- Jaundice (yellow tint to skin or eyes)