Hepatitis C

Chronic Hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C affects the liver and is caused by the hepatitis C virus. The virus infects liver cells and can cause severe inflammation of the liver with long-term complications. Worldwide approximately 70 million people live with chronic hepatitis C.

Acute versus chronic


Hepatitis C infection is usually acute initially but can develop into a chronic condition. Approximately 15 to 45 per cent of people clear the virus completely during the acute phase. 55 to 85 per cent of patients who have acute hepatitis C develop chronic infection and may progress to serious liver diseases, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Acute hepatitis C cases typically are not diagnosed as they do not have symptoms. For chronic cases, treatment options include antiviral medication. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C virus.

Transmission


The hepatitis C virus is usually spread through blood for instance sharing needles or other equipment associated with injecting drug use. It can also spread through blood transfusions before the availability of testing for Hepatitis C, organ transplants and, although now less common, blood contamination in medical settings.

Symptoms


Most people with viral hepatitis do not experience symptoms from the infection until serious liver damage occurs, which can take up to 30 years. When symptoms do appear, they often are a sign of advanced liver disease and can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light- coloured stools, joint pain, and jaundice. Because it takes so long for symptoms to occur, hepatitis has been described as a “silent killer”.

Testing, diagnosis and treatment


Testing and diagnosis for hepatitis C can only be is done through specific blood tests and which are not typically part of routine physician examinations. A screening test is usually required to look for “antibodies” of hepatitis C virus. If antibodies are found, separate blood tests are needed to determine whether the infection has cleared or has become a chronic infection.

Hepatitis C can be cured with the most recent treatments being simple, safe, and very effective with a 95% success rate with few symptoms.

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The Coalition to Eradicate Viral Hepatitis in Asia Pacific (CEVHAP), established in October 2010, is a multidisciplinary body advocating public policy reforms aimed at reducing the burden of viral hepatitis in Asia-Pacific.

WHA Member

CEVHAP is proud to be a member of the World Hepatitis Alliance since September 2019.

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