Experts recommend routine screening of all pregnant women for hepatitis C infection.
Hiding in the shadow of the opioid epidemic is another troubling public health crisis, the precipitous increase in people whose liver is infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).
It’s likely you have seen the drug company commercials advertising medications to treat hepatitis C. In these commercials, it appears that hepatitis C is only a problem among older Americans. Although baby boomers still represent the largest group infected with hepatitis C virus, these commercials only tell a part of the story.
The hepatitis C virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood of someone who is infected with the virus. Most people who are infected with the hepatitis C virus do not have any symptoms. Others may have very mild, vague symptoms including fever, fatigue, joint pain, nausea, and vomiting. Although the infection often goes away on its own, more than 75% of people who get the hepatitis C virus will develop a persistent (chronic) infection. Over time, chronic HCV can lead to liver failure and an increased risk of liver cancer.
The good news is effective treatment options are available that cure hepatitis C. You are considered cured when the virus is no longer detected in your bloodstream. But because you may not develop any symptoms until it is much too late to prevent the serious liver complications of chronic hepatitis C, you need to be tested to see if you are at risk of infection.
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