Hepatitis C is one of the sneakiest viruses. It can creep into your blood and settle in your liver, long-term. Hepatitis C is the number one reason for liver transplants in the US, and may lead to liver cancer or failure when untreated. There are a few major reasons to get tested for hepatitis C if you believe you may be exposed:
You don’t have to feel ill to have hepatitis C
In fact, most with the disease don’t realize they have it–sometimes it takes up to 30 years before symptoms develop, as the virus stays in the liver, unnoticed, for decades. You don’t want to wait long because your liver could be in a lot of danger by this time. It’s especially important to be tested if you’ve been exposed to blood at work, you’re on hemodialysis, you’ve injected drugs into your body, you’re HIV positive or you’ve had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992.
It’s an easy test
You just need a blood test and you can get the results in a few days. Sometimes clinics have extremely quick tests that show results in 20 minutes or so. Even if you test negative, you should get another test if you were possibly exposed to hepatitis C in the last six months. And, if the test shows a positive result, the second can show whether the infection cleared or became chronic. Chronic is most common and you need to see a doctor who specializes in the treatment of hepatitis if this is the case.
You’re protecting loved ones
Even without symptoms, you’re able to pass the virus through your blood. Cover any wounds you may have and do not share items such as, razors. toothbrushes, needles, body piercing or tattooing supplies or similar items. Though it’s rare, hepatitis C can be spread through unprotected sex.
Treatment can help or get rid of hepatitis C
A combination of antiviral medications are used to treat hepatitis C. The drugs are not 100 percent guaranteed to work on everyone and the side effects can sometimes be rough. But, a significant amount of people find themselves free of the virus after treatment. Recently, two medications have been approved by the FDA for treatment and are believed to come with fewer side effects and work better.
Early treatment is crucial
Liver cancer and failure are strong possibilities that come with having hepatitis C. Early testing and treatment will prevent the the virus from triggering cirrhosis or cancer. A simple test can save your life.