New Data Answers “How Do You Get Hepatitis”

November 7, 2011

SyringeWith all the advancements in technology, drugs, and pathogen awareness, many are left wondering, how do you get Hep C in this day and age?

Progressive cities have implemented needle-exchange programs to curb drug transmission among drug users, people who are proactive about their health understand the need to ask questions of their health care professionals (who may also be reusing, or borrowing, needles), and our germ-aware society knows not to share toothbrushes, razorblades, or other personal implements.

So how do you get Hepatitis C with all these proactive investments in prevention?

It turns out, Hepatitis C is a very hardy virus. Needle exchange programs, for example, have dramatically lowered rates of HIV transmission…but Hepatitis C remains highly transmittable.

Hepatitis C can remain alive on inanimate surfaces for up to a week. Many bacteria and viruses can survive a few days, weeks if they’re coated in mucus, but Hepatitis C seems to be even hardier, and more contagious. Any shared drop of blood can lead to infection.

Adding to the contagiousness of Hepatitis C is the high viral load of chronically infected users, or those who may be unaware they carry the disease. It can take up to 6 months to show symptoms of hepatitis c, and they’ll appear as a mild flu for most people.

In fact, it may soon be recommended that people born between 1945 and 1965 be screened for Hepatitis C.

Hepatitis C is a virus that can lay silent for years, slowly damaging the liver. With a weakened immune system, as happens when another illness occurs, or with age, the viral load for Hepatitis C can increase, causing less silent Hepatitis C symptoms.

In the years before our awareness of how do you get Hepatitis C, and the need for clean hospital implements, safe sex, and safe drug use the disease spread freely. Baby boomers are at a high risk for getting Hep C, and testing before serious Hepatitis C symptoms appear could save them not only time and money, but their liver.

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