Hepatitis C

Up to 216,000 Pennsylvanians are at risk (Information provided by the Hepatitis C Coalition)

What is Hepatitis C?

  • Hepatitis C is a virus found in a person’s blood that can attack and destroy the liver, which can lead to liver failure and death. However, based on available evidence, the majority of people diagnosed with hepatitis C do not experience advanced liver disease.
  • The majority of people with hepatitis C have no symptoms, and therefore do not know that they are infected.
  • Symptoms of hepatitis C include:
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • fatigue
    • pain in the abdominal area
  • Nearly 4 times as many people in the United States have hepatitis C, than have HIV.
  • Up to 216,000 Pennsylvanians are believed to be infected with hepatitis C, There may be no symptoms until the disease reaches an advanced state – which may take more than 20 years.

What Should You Do?

If you think you, or someone you know, may be at risk, talk to your doctor and get tested. The earlier you find out that you have hepatitis C, the more likely treatment could be successful.

Who is at Risk?

  • People who have shared needles to inject drugs into themselves.
  • People who have shared a straw to snort cocaine, even if it was only once. Hepatitis C can be passed through the thin tissue inside the nose.
  • People who had tissue or organ transplants prior to 1992
  • Any person receiving a blood transfusion or blood products prior to 1992.
  • People who are or have been on hemodialysis.
  • People who have had unprotected sex with multiple partners or a history of sexually transmitted diseases.
  • People who work in an emergency service or health care setting, such as nurses, paramedics, and doctors , where they may have inadvertently been stuck with a needle from an infected person.

Talking with your Doctor about Hepatitis

Should you believe that you may be at risk for hepatitis C there are several questions you can ask your doctor. The following are some examples:

  • Why should I get a hepatitis C test?
  • What is the difference between hepatitis A, B and C?
  • What type of test determines whether or not I may have hepatitis C?
  • How long does it take to get the results of this test?
  • How much does the test cost?
  • Is hepatitis C covered under my health insurance?
  • Can hepatitis C be cured?
  • What type of treatment options for hepatitis C are available?
  • If I have hepatitis C, what lifestyle changes would I have to make?
  • What impact does alcohol have on someone with Hepatitis C?
  • How can you prevent infecting others ?
  • Where can I find information regarding support groups?
  • Where can I get more information?

Pennsylvania Hepatitis C Helpline
1-800-437-3182

American Liver Foundation
1-888-4HEP-USA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1-888-4-HEP-CDC

Hepatitis Foundation International
1-800-891-0707

National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services Organization
202-387-5000

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