Most individuals with Hepatitis C will not even be aware that they have the virus as symptoms can take up to 6 months to become noticeable. Individuals also commonly mistake Hepatitis C as being the flu, as manifestations include nausea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. Joint pain and fatigue is also commonly present in those infected with the Hepatitis C virus.
To find out when symptoms of other Hepatitis viruses can occur, read Dr. Ali Ghahary’s articles on Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B at http://alighahary.blogspot.ca and http://alighahary.wordpress.com. Additionally, you can also find more information by following Dr. Ghahary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dralighahary.
Hepatitis C is contracted when someone who is not infected with the virus comes into contact with the blood of someone who is. Today, Hepatitis C is most commonly transmitted via the use of contaminated needles used to inject illicit drugs. It can also be transmitted through open wounds and sexual intercourse, and can also be passed from mother to baby during childbirth. Hepatitis C is less commonly transmitted through use of personal hygiene products such as toothbrushes and razors.
Hepatitis C and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can commonly co-occur due to both of these conditions sharing the same risk factors. The risk of developing Hepatitis C through sexual contact increases for individuals who do not practice safe sex, have multiple sexual partners, have an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) and are HIV positive. You are also at a greater risk of developing Hepatitis C if you have previously injected illicit drugs or have had blood transfusions or an organ transplant prior to the year 1992.
As no vaccine for Hepatitis C exists, you should take preventative measures to ensure you do not come into contact with the virus. Avoid sharing needles, and ensure that any tattooing, piercing or acupuncture equipment is always properly sterilized before use.
To determine whether or not you have contracted Hepatitis C, Dr. Ali Ghahary, a physician in Vancouver, will send patients for a blood test known as an antibody test or anti-HCV test. If this test comes back positive, you will then be send for an RNA or PCR test to see if you have active Hepatitis C.