By: Erika Pfeifer
75% of Americans with Hepatitis C Don't Know They Have It.
Hepatitis C is a liver infection that, if left untreated, can wreak havoc on your health causing liver damage, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an estimated 2.4 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic hepatitis C, and 3 in 4 people are living with hepatitis C, completely unaware.
Acute vs. Chronic
There are actually two types of hepatitis C: Acute and chronic. Acute hepatitis C occurs within six months after being exposed to the hepatitis C virus. About 15-25% of people infected with hepatitis C clear it from their bodies without treatment but research has still not determined how this is possible for some people. However, approximately 75-85% of people with acute hepatitis C will go on to develop chronic hepatitis C, which is a lifelong infection causing the health problems previously mentioned, if not treated.
Hepatitis C Symptoms
One of the main issues with detection of hepatitis C is that symptoms do not always present themselves and if they do, they are not necessarily unique enough to signal to doctors that a patient needs to be tested. Typically, people learn they have hepatitis C after a routine blood test. Symptoms for hepatitis C include:
- No symptoms
- Dark, yellow urine
- Feeling tired
- Gray-or-colored stools
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Yellowish eyes and skin called jaundice
Who Should Get Tested for Hepatitis C?
While advocacy for testing for hepatitis C has been heavily geared toward people born from 1945-1956, known as “Baby Boomers,” there are other groups of people that should be aware of their risk for infection of the hepatitis C virus.
According to hepvic.org.au, approximately 60% of new infections are in people aged 15-29 years of age. The CDC has outlined a list of people more likely to get hepatitis C. That list includes people who:
- Have injected or snorted drugs
- Had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992
- Have Hemophilia and received clotting factor before 1981
- Have been on kidney dialysis
- Have been in contact with blood or infected needles at work
- Have had tattoos or body piercings in unsanitary or non-regulated settings
- Have worked or lived in a prison
- Were born to a mother with Hep C
- Are infected with HIV
It is important to consult your care provider if you believe you could be infected with hepatitis C. Seek guidance on testing, treatment options, and a planned course of action.
If your organization provides ongoing hepatitis testing and vaccination services, please visit https://gettested.cdc.gov/ and fill out an online form to make sure your services are registered within their database. This site is a tool for people to enter their zip code and find ongoing services in their area.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.
Erika Pfeifer, Marketing and Client Success Coordinator
Erika Pfeifer is the liaison between Marketing and Client Success at Equiscript. She works with both teams to collaborate and come up with ways to better reach and serve our patients, clients, and communities. Erika is a graduate of the University of Arkansas where she studied communication and marketing.