“We’re in the midst of a national epidemic of hepatitis C,” Ward said. Nationwide, more than 20,000 Americans die from hepatitis C a year, which is more than the number who die from AIDS, he said. “The CDC views hepatitis C as an urgent public health problem.” —Quoted from USAToday
What’s really troubling about the Hepatitis C epidemic is that there are so many people who don’t know they have it, or who know, but have to wait until “it’s serious enough” to get medication. Hepatitis C is a mostly silent (symptomless) disease—at least until the liver reaches a very critical point of damage. Like all diseases, early treatment and management lead to a better outcome!
There are a lot of misconceptions about Hepatitis C. Mostly, those misconceptions help people sleep better at night—no one wants to think medical treatment (especially from long ago) might have given them a serious illness! But AT LEAST 3 million (1%) people in the US have Hepatitis C. Many of them have never injected drugs, and either way deserve support for what’s a national problem.
It’s unfortunate that Hep C is unfairly stigmatized—that stigmatization puts those very same people at risk for catching it. While injectable drugs are one of the better-known ways for catching Hep C, it’s such a highly transmissible disease that there are numerous ways it can be passed—it can survive outside of the body for days! (And as an aside—it sure doesn’t help that current popular injectables, namely, prescription pain meds, aren’t great for the liver, making infection and disease progression all the more likely!)
And there’s a large portion of the US population who might unknowingly be carrying Hep C—Baby Boomers (mostly). Pre-1992ish, (when people/hospitals got serious about disease transmission and made changes after the AIDS epidemic), there were some bad medical practices (including needle reuse, not checking blood for transfusions, etc.) that might have transmitted Hepatitis C (some of course were phased out much earlier that the late 80s/early 90s, and there’s always a lot of variance by region and hospital).
Today’s hospital acquired infections are more related to doctors and nurses not washing their hands, antibiotic overuse, etc., but Hep C is still on that list! It’s rare, but when someone messes up (or however), the virulence of the virus ensures hundreds to thousands are infected.
Ways To Support People With Hepatitis C:
-Have non-alcoholic drinks available at your party (like coffee! Which might actually help support the liver).
-Don’t make assumptions.
-Understand decisions they might make to mitigate transmission risks—like not sharing utensils, lipstick, toothbrushes (or other personal items), etc. Keeping personal items personal is actually a good health practice without Hepatitis C involved.
And of course, everyone (but especially people with a chronic infection, which weakens the immune system) can support themselves with good health habits like getting enough sleep, exercise, etc., and even adding colloidal silver to their daily supplement regime.
Share your thoughts on Hep C in the comments!: