צהבת נגיפית C - אפשר להחלים, היבדקו היום!


What is hepatitis C virus infection?

Hepatitis is a liver infection (also named jaundice); it can damage the liver's function, if you get infected by the virus that causes it.

The liver is one of the most important organs of the human body. It processes and filters out many chemicals in the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be compromised and an inflammation might occur, characterized by jaundice (yellow coloration of the skin or eyes), fever, malaise, and fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, dark urine and clay-colored bowel movements.

The severity of the disease depends on multiple factors and it can be a serious chronic disease. Heavy alcohol use, toxins (such as carbon tetrachloride found in household detergents) and certain medications (for example, medications that contain paracetamol), as well as certain medical conditions can all cause hepatitis. Hepatitis is also caused by a virus.

The most common hepatitis viruses are hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses.  

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus.

Hepatitis C can range from a mild disease with few symptoms or without any symptoms at all, to a serious illness that may require hospitalization.

In the initial stage (the first few months after exposure to the virus), an acute hepatitis might develop but it is also possible that no symptoms will show at all. For unknown reason, about 20% of the people infected with the virus will clear it from their bodies in the first six months of the disease and will not develop a chronic infection. The majority of the people infected with the virus (about 80%) cannot clear the hepatitis C virus from their bodies and will develop a chronic (lifelong) infection. Some chronic infection cases may also develop cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) – a condition in which the normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue (fibrosis). In about half of all cirrhosis cases, multiple liver scars will develop failure and require liver transplantation. Some will develop liver cancer.   

Transmission

Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected.

Infection occurs if there is sufficient amount of blood. Risk of infection becomes higher if sharp objects with blood on them are shared repeatedly, such as needles, syringes, razors and piercing and tattooing instruments. Some people are at increased risk for having hepatitis C, including:

  1. Recipients of blood transfusions or blood products prior to 1992 (the year Israel began running hepatitis diagnostic tests of blood products)
  2. Current or former injection drug users
  3. People who received invasive medical procedures, or had body piercings or tattoos done with non-sterile equipment
  4. People who were born, or received vaccines or underwent invasive medical procedures, in countries where there was no sterilization practice or where needles were not replaced.

The risk for transmission of the hepatitis C virus through sexual contact is low but possible. The risk increases for people who have a sexually transmitted disease (including HIV), or have multiple sex partners without using a condom.

Symptoms

Many people with hepatitis C virus infection do not have symptoms (they are a-symptomatic) and do not realize they are infected.

If symptoms occur, they can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice of the skin or eyes (there are many causes for yellow skin, other than neonatal jaundice).

During the acute disease (new infection) stage, symptoms may appear at any time, ranging between two weeks and six months from exposure.

During the chronic disease stage, the virus settles in the body because the immune system is unable to clear it. The disease can develop over several decades, and when symptoms appear, they may indicate, and they frequently do, a serious liver disease. A chronic disease can result in serious health problems such as cirrhosis, bleeding of the esophagus or the stomach, edema (fluid buildup in the body's tissue), liver cancer; patients may need liver transplantation but the disease can be fatal, too.

Treatment

Several medications for treating hepatitis C are available. These medications are safe and efficient, and therapy involves just several weeks with few side effects.

If these medications are used, the cure rate is very high (over 95%).

 

Who is at risk and should get tested for hepatitis C?

 

It is recommended that certain groups get tested for hepatitis C:

  • Recipients of blood transfusion or blood products (such as platelets, plasma etc.) prior to 1992
  • Current or former injection drug users
  • People who underwent invasive medical procedures, who got body piercings or tattoos in settings without appropriate sterilization practice
  • People who were born, and most likely were vaccinated or underwent invasive medical procedures, in countries where there was no sterilization practice or needles were not replaced, such as in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan 
  • People with HIV or HBV
  • Untreated HCV positive cases

Public Education Resources

 

How to get tested?

 

If you are in an at-risk group specified above, contact your family doctor.

The only way to know if you have hepatitis C virus is to get tested in two-stages:

  • The first stage is called an antibody test.

    If the result of the antibody test is positive, it means that you have been infected with the hepatitis C virus at some point in time, but it does not necessarily mean you are sick with hepatitis C.

  • If the antibody test is positive, another molecular blood test (PCR) is performed to confirm whether the virus is still present in your body.


How to prevent infection?

Back To Top