What is Hepatitis C and Why Should You Care?
How to Prevent Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C (HCV) is a liver infection caused by a virus. To get it, you have to come in contact with an infected person’s blood. Hepatitis C can become a serious issue if left untreated, so if you do contract it, get it checked out immediately. It is curable, but could cause serious health problems if not detected and treated early.
Avoiding Hepatitis C
Avoid direct contact with blood or fluids if you work in a medical field.Always wear protective clothing, including gloves, and dispose of sharp objects or contaminated objects properly.If you work in another field using dangerous equipment, be sure to follow all safety precautions designated by your employer and OSHA.
Get tattoos and piercings only from licensed practitioners.Keep in mind that a reputable artist will open their instruments in front of you. The instruments should be sealed in plastic and the artist should open them in your presence to show that they are new and have not been used on someone else. Make sure they sterilize all equipment used between customers with an autoclave. Also ask if they use new needles and ink wells for each customer.
- There are chemicals that can be used to clean tattooing and piercing equipment, but an autoclave is the safest and best method of doing so.
Practice safe sex.Although not often transmitted through sexual activity, hepatitis C may be spread this way in special cases. Risk factors include having an STD, HIV, multiple partners, or engaging in rough sex practices.
- Men having sex with other men should always use condoms for intercourse.
- Always use condoms if having sex during your or your partner’s menstrual period or if one of you has an open sore on the genitals.
Stopping the Spread of Hepatitis C
Get tested if you have risk factors.You can carry and transmit the virus even if you have no symptoms. Get tested for Hepatitis C if any of the following apply to you:
See a doctor for treatment.There are two types of Hepatitis C—short-term, or acute, and long-term, or chronic. For acute infections, doctors often recommend bed rest, increasing fluid intake, maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding alcohol.Chronic infections typically need antivirals and/or other medications.
- Chronic infections are defined as lasting 6 months or longer. About 70%-85% of people with HCV develop long-term infections that can lead to serious health problems, including death.
- Treatment depends on the extent of any damage caused by the virus, other health conditions, and the strain of Hepatitis C you have.
Avoid letting others come into contact with your blood.Cover any cuts or blisters with bandages and dispose of them carefully. Wash your hands and any objects that come into contact with your blood with soap and water.
Use bleach to clean up any spilled blood, including dried blood.Mix one part bleach with 10 parts water to make a cleaning solution.Wear gloves to prevent direct contact and absorb any liquid with paper towels. Apply bleach solution to object or area and let stand or soak for 20 minutes. Wipe with paper towels and let dry.
- Dispose of paper towels and anything else used to sop up contaminated materials in a sealed container.
Practice safe sex.If you have hepatitis C, always use a condom when engaging in intercourse.
- If you have HIV, the chances of getting hepatitis C are higher, so make sure you get tested and tell all partners about both infections before engaging in intercourse.
Stop breastfeeding if your nipples are cracked and bleeding.You can resume breastfeeding when they have healed.
- A baby can contract hepatitis C from their mother. Talk to your doctor if you have hepatitis C and are pregnant.
- Keep in mind that Hepatitis C does not spread through everyday contact, such as hugging, kissing, or holding hands.
- Make sure to follow a healthy diet and avoid drinking alcohol if you have hepatitis C.
- You can get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B, but there is no vaccine for hepatitis C.
- Hepatitis is a hardy virus that can live a long time outside of the body.
- Do not donate semen, blood, tissue, or organs if you have hepatitis C.
- If you suspect you may have hepatitis C, see your doctor. Hepatitis C requires a professional diagnosis.
- Testing of pregnant women for hepatitis C is not routine for prenatal care. If you are pregnant have risk factors for the virus, be tested by a doctor.
Video: Hepatitis C | Nucleus Health
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