Hepatitis (hepa-liver; titis-inflammation) affects the liver, which is the largest organ in the human body. The liver is responsible for over 500 important bodily functions. It acts like a factory, storage facility, and filtering system all in one. The liver works hard to keep your body running smoothly. The liver can repare itself if it is injured or damaged.
Hepatitis comes in three forms; Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis B (HBV), and Hepatitis C (HCV).
Hepatitis A (HAV)
Hep A has a vaccine. There are two shots six months apart. It is transmitted when we eat or drink something that is contaminated with the Hepatitis A virus. Uncooked or improperly prepared food, food prepared by people who haven’t washed their hands, or water contaminated by animal or human waste (feces/poop) can carry the Hep A virus. You can help prevent yourself from contracting Hep A by washing your hands and avoiding untreated water and suspicious foods.
Hepatitis B (HBV)
This is the most common strain of the hepatitis virus. It is found in bodily fluids such as blood, semen, pre-cum, vaginal fluids, breast milk and saliva. Hep B can be transmitted through sexual contact. It can be prevented by adopting safe sex practices (using a condom). There is a vaccine for Hep B (3 shot series over 6 months).
Hepatitis C (HCV)
Hepatitis C can only be spreat by contact with Hepatitis C positive blood. HCV is NOT transmitted via sexual fluids or any other body fluid unless there is blood present. HCV can remain dormant in the body for 10 years or more. The virus can remain alive outside of the body for two weeks in dried blood. There is NO vaccine for Hepatitis C.
Treatment of Hep C
A combination of interferon and ribavirin is given to the patient. Interferon is injected under teh skin, it is a natural protein that helps your body fight infections. Ribavirin is a pill, taken twice a day. Ribavirin is an antiviral agent that fights the Hepatitis C virus.
The goal of treatment is to get an undetectable viral load. This allows your liver to heal itself, as long as cirrhosis has not set in. Combination therapy is not a cure. Transmission of the virus is still possible even with an undetectable viral load, and reoccurance of symptoms is still possible.
Symptoms of Hepatitis
•Nausea or loss of appetite
•Abdominal and Joint pain
•Swollen and Itchy skin
•Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
•Discoloured urine (pee)
•White stool (poop)
How Hepatitis C is Spread
•Blood transfusions before 1992.
•Injection drug use and sharing equipment.
•Tattooing and body piercing.
•Sharing person-al hygiene products (razors, nail cippers, toothbrushes)
•15-20% chance from unprotected sex
•Mother to child
How Hep C is NOT Spread
•Holding hands, hugging, or other casual contact
•Not through body fluids unless blood is present
•Sneezing or coughing
•Sharing utensils or drinking glasses
•Food or water