KNOW THE FACTS ABOUT HEPATITIS C
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis means inflammation of liver. Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease usually causes long term or chronic liver infection. If not treated with medication it can lead to liver cirrhosis, liver failure and/or liver cancer.
How can one get infected with Hepatitis C?
It results from Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) that primarily spread through blood or blood contact. You may be at risk if you met the following:
- Sharing Needles, Syringes for injecting drugs
- Blood transfusion especially from unregulated blood bank
- Sharing items such as razors or tooth brush
- Unprotected Sex with multiple partners
What are the Symptoms of Hepatitis C?
In early phase of infection patient do not notice any considerable symptoms and are perfectly healthy. With the progress of infection and onset of liver cirrhosis patient can experience the following symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Skin itching
- Dark Urine
- Jaundice (Yellowing of skin and eye)
Once the liver undergoes failure patient develops Edema (Swelling of legs), Ascites (fluid in abdomen), vomiting of blood and mental confusion.
How is Hepatitis C Diagnosed?
Hepatitis C or HCV can be diagnosed simply with a blood test. Specialized blood test is carried out to know the amount virus in the blood and its genotype. An ultrasound scan and a fibroscan is carried out to assess the development of liver cirrhosis. In some cases, liver biopsy is also done.
What is the Hepatitis C Treatment?
A new drug called directly acting anti-viral (DAA) has revolutionized the treatment for hepatitis C. These drugs include Sofosbuvir (Sovaldi), Daclatsavir (Daklinza) and Ledipasvir/Sofosbuvir (Harvoni). Most patients are cured within 3 months of treatment. But, some patients that have advanced infection or who has failed the treatment in past may require 6 months treatment to get cured. Below are some therapies that are effective to cure 95% of infections:
- Patients with Genotype 1 and 4 infections: Harvoni (Sofosbuvir / Ledipasvir) for 3 months
- Patients with Genotype 2 infection: Sofosbuvir and Ribavirin for 3 months
- Patients with Genotype 3 infection: Sofosbuvir and Daclatsavir for 3 months
- Patients with cirrhosis: Treatment should be extended to 6 months to achieve optimal response
What is the treatment for patient with HCV and liver failure?
Once the patient HCV infection progresses and develops cirrhosis or failure. It can not be treated with medicines. The only possible option for treatment is liver transplant. Overall around 10% of patients with HCV infection required liver transplant. The patients that only have cirrhosis on fibroscan and shows no evidence of liver failure should take treatment of DAA drugs to prevent further progression of disease.