Gambling With Hepatitis C

July 14, 2015

Woman BrowsingWith the new super expensive Hep C treatment (possible cure), the new standard is to delay treatment, and hope that you catch Hepatitis C just in time. Insurance companies don’t want to pay for treatment until they have to, but before liver failure reaches the point of an even more expensive transplant!

Hepatitis C is a “silent” disease. Infection usually goes decades before symptoms start to be noticeable, a combination of time and age (age weakens the immune system, unfortunately). When symptoms start to show, it’s already serious—cirrhosis of the liver, and eventually, liver failure.

Recently, there’s been a push to raise awareness about testing. While many (in the US, at least,) associate Hep C with drugs, it affects many more than that.

Yes, Hepatitis C is transferred extremely easily among drug users, because even if you don’t share needles, that virulent little virus can survive, transfer through a shared spoon or cotton swab, and you only need a couple live viruses to catch it (where other viruses wouldn’t survive, and you’d need hundreds to catch it).

That also means that people who have Hep C have to be very careful about not transferring it. Razor blades, even toothbrushes, can transfer the virus.

Knowing how easily it transfers, it’s no surprise that before we wised up about disease transmission, a whole generation was put at risk for Hep C. Baby Boomers (born roughly between ’45-’62) may have been exposed to Hep C a whole variety of ways. Rural schools that lined kids up to administer vaccines with the same jar and needle, unchecked blood transfusions, sexual transmission, and other thoughtless interactions with hospital personnel.

The current recommendation is that all Baby Boomers get tested for Hep C. (I actually think it’s wise to get tested periodically for a variety of reasons—you cut your foot dancing at a club, after getting out of a relationship, because you’re questioning a past hospital stay). Hep C testing is most effective 6 months after exposure—that’s when you can see it, and for some people, even if exposed, there immune system is strong enough to not catch it.

And if the results are positive? Explore your options. Traditional Hep C treatments cause so many side effects many people skip them, and wait to get approved (or save and save and save up) for the new big thing. Then watch symptoms. Early-early symptoms can include fatigue and an immune system weakened by the battle (so you catch colds more easily).

In fact, many people with Hep C are at a MUCH greater risk from other diseases, probably because of their weakened immune systems.

Eating healthy, immune support (like colloidal silver), and generally taking it easy are also important steps to take once you have Hep C.

What are your thoughts on new Hepatitis C policies?

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