Causes ,symptoms and management of Hepatitis C virus (HCV)

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus.It can be acute and chronic hepatitis, ranging in from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe, lifelong illness.

POINTS TO NOTE ABOUT HCV

  • HCV infection is a bloodborne infection which are transmitted  and
    the most common modes of infection are through exposure to blood and bloodily fluids content like sharing of  sharps, unsafe injection practices, unprotected sex, blood donation and transfusion.
  • This may happen through injection drug use, unsafe injection practices, unsafe health care, and the
    transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products.
  • Globally, an estimated 71 million people have chronic hepatitis C infection.
    A significant number of those who are chronically infected will develop cirrhosis or liver cancer.
  • Approximately 399 000 people die each year from hepatitis C, mostly from cirrhosis and
    hepatocellular carcinoma.
  •  Antiviral medicines can cure more than 95% of persons with hepatitis C infection, thereby reducing
    the risk of death from liver cancer and cirrhosis, but access to diagnosis and treatment is low.
  • There is  no vaccine for hepatitis C; however research in this area is ongoing.

TYPES

HCV can b either acute and chronic infection.

Acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic, and is only very rarely (if ever) associated with life-
threatening disease. About 15– 45% of infected persons spontaneouslyclear the virus within 6 months of infection without any treatment.
The remaining 55–85% of persons will develop chronic HCV
infection. Of those with chronic HCV infection, the risk of cirrhosis of
the liver is between 15–30% within 20 years.

RISCK FACTORS

  • Homosexual men or those who engage in unprotected anal sex and other unprotected sexual intercourse.
  • Frequent blood donors and patients who frequently receives blood.
  • Patient who have donate or had done organ transplant.
  • Health workers who are exposed to blood and bodily fluids, needle prick etc.
  • Patient being managed on poor health setting who made use of unsterilized  medical equipment, especially syringes and needles.
  • Long term dialysis.
  • Patient with HIV.
  • Baby born by a Hepatitis mother.
  • people who tattoo on their body.

INCUBATION

It takes HCV 2 weeks to 6 months <14 to 80 days> to move into the blood stream and cause the first manifestation.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Following initial infection, approximately 80% of people do not exhibit any symptoms. Those who are acutely symptomatic may exhibit

  • fever
  • fatigue
  • anorexia
  • nausea and vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • dark urine
  • clay-coloured faeces,
    joint pain
  • jaundice (yellowing of
    skin and the whites of the eyes).

DIAGNOSIS
Owning to the fact that acute HCV infection is usually asymptomatic, many people go undectable during the acute phase. In those people who go on to develop chronic HCV infection, the infection is also often undiagnosed
because the infection remains asymptomatic until decades after infection when symptoms develop secondary to serious liver damage.
HCV infection is diagnosed in 2 steps:
1. Screening for anti-HCV antibodies with a serological test identifies people who have been infected with
the virus.
2. If the test is positive for anti-HCV antibodies, a nucleic acid test for HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) is
needed to confirm chronic infection because about 15–45% of people infected with HCV spontaneously
clear the infection by a strong immune response without the need for treatment. Although no longer
infected, they will still test positive for anti-HCV antibodies.

 

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