Welcome to BattlingHepC.com – At BattlingHepC.com we aim to provide those who are fighting Hepatitis C with the most relevant information in the continuing and evolving fight against this once deadly virus.
HCV claims the lives of up to 13,000 Americans every year. It is one of the major causes of chronic liver disease in the United States and is now the number one reason for liver transplants. There are over 17,000 people waiting for donor livers and the majority of those have HCV. Only about 4,000 donor livers are available per year in the United States.
The majority of people infected with HCV have no symptoms in the early years of the infection. Once symptoms appear severe liver problems such as cirrhosis have developed. Of those with acute illness, fatigue and jaundice occur in less than 30%. Once HCV is established, mild chronic infection takes place in more than 80% of cases.
The progression of HCV is largely silent. It can take up to 30 years for signs of liver damage to emerge. Fibrosis or the formation of scar tissue in the liver from on going injury to the organ leads to cirrhosis in up to 20% of patients. Up to 15% of those with cirrhosis will develop liver cancer.
Aggressive treatments with Intron A, PEG Intron and Ribavirin can help patients to rid the virus or a least slow it down. These treatments have bothersome side effects and are expensive. A typical 48 weeks combo treatment regimen with Intron A and Ribavirin can cost up to $20,000. Most patients will need help sticking to the treatment regimen which can take up to a year to complete. There is no known complete cure for HCV at this time.
Mono treatment of HCV with Interferon Alpha leads to sustained viral clearance in only about 15% of patients. Combo treatment of HCV with Interferon Alpha and Ribavirin leads to a sustained viral clearance in only about 40% of patients. Combo treatment of HCV with PegIntron and Ribavirin leads to a sustained viral clearance in only about 56% of patients.
Many new treatments are available to sufferers today in the way of Sovaldi and many other breakthroughs in HCV support.
People can get HCV from a needlestick injury, surgery, dental work, hemodialysis, blood transfusion (particularly if the transfusion took place before 1992), IV drug use, nasal drug use, tattoos, body piercing, sharing razors, sharing toothbrushes, blood to blood contact and unprotected sexual activity with multiple partners.
When HCV symptoms finally appear, they are usually mild and often mistaken for other illnesses. Fatigue, depression, nausea, anorexia, abdominal pain and difficulity concentrating are common complaints. More serious symptoms appear when HCV has progressed to cirrhosis such as ascities, encephalopathy, edema and GI bleeding.
Early detection of HCV usually happens during routine blood lab testing that shows an elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT). This is an enzyme released into the blood when the liver is damaged or when the liver is inflamed. HCV is also detected during blood donor screening when a donor sample turns up positive for HCV antibodies.
HCV treatment is rather polarizing at the moment. Most people choose to repair damaged liver function from the disease with herbal supplements such as Milk Thistle.
It is estimated that there are over 5 million people in the United States infected with the hepatitis C virus and only approximately 20% of those know they are infected. The veteran population has a higher prevalence of hepatitis C than the general population with an estimated 2.6 million veterans infected and an estimated 1.6 million of those are Vietnam Era veterans.