These five types of viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis. However, the disease may also be due to different kinds of infections, toxic substances (alcohol or some drugs) or autoimmune disorders. Over 170 million people worldwide are infected with Hepatitis C.
October 1st is the International Day against Hepatitis C, a disease that affects over 170 million people in the world infected with this virus.
Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. The condition may enter spontaneously into remission or evolve into a fibrosis, cirrhosis or even liver cancer. Hepatitis viruses are the most common cause of hepatitis, which can also be due to other infections, toxic substances (such as alcohol or some drugs) or autoimmune disorders.
Almost half of the cases of Hepatitis C will develop cirrhosis in the 10 years following contagion, while 40% of patients with cirrhosis present a chronic infection derived from the C Virus. Hence the relationship between pathologies.
Another infection linked in many cases to Hepatitis C is AIDS (HIV). The presence of both infections favours a more negative progression of the disease.
How is hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is not contagious unless the person has direct contact with infected blood. This means that a person infected with this virus cannot pass it on after a casual contact or by coughing, shaking hands or kissing or sharing eating utensils, neither in swimming pools or public baths. It is usually spread by direct contact with the blood of a person who has the disease. In rare cases, Hepatitis C can be transmitted from the mother to her baby before birth. This virus could also be passed during sexual intercourse, or when sharing razors and toothbrushes, although these cases are also rare. Often, the cause of hepatitis C is never found.
What can you do to prevent getting Hepatitis C?
Given that there is no vaccine available that to protect you against hepatitis C, being informed plays a key role.
1. Do not share utensils which may cause bleeding, such as razors, manicure items or toothbrushes.
2. Cover open wounds to reduce the risk of exposure to infected blood.
3. Always use condoms if you have intercourse, unsafe sex practices or multiple partners.
4. In case of being infected, inform anyone around you that they might be at risk so they can take precautions, for example nurses when having a blood test or in case of having colonoscopy.
5. With regard to tattoos, be careful that the ink used is open for the first time when having one done. If you are a carrier of the C virus, you should also inform the professional tattooing you.
Remember that the C virus is not the only one, there are others who have been identified by the scientific community; four others in particular, known as Hepatitis A, B, D and E and all causing liver disease.
Hepatitis A is most often transmitted by the ingestion of contaminated food or drinks. In many cases the infection is mild, and most people recover completely and become immune against future infections by this virus. However, infections with this variety of the virus can also be serious and potentially fatal. There are safe and effective vaccines available to prevent infection, although in developing countries, due to the poor sanitation of the water, often they still continue to suffer from this type of infection.
Hepatitis B is transmitted by exposure to blood, semen and other infectious body fluids; a mother could also pass it on to her baby during childbirth. Another possibility is transmission through blood transfusions and contaminated blood products, injections given with contaminated instrumentation during medical interventions and following the use of injection drugs. Contagion risk also arises when accidentally pricking oneself with a needle-stick while attending people infected with the virus. There is also a safe and effective vaccine to prevent this infection.
Hepatitis D only occurs in people infected with the B type of the disease; a simultaneous infection by both viruses can cause a more serious condition and have a worse outcome. There are safe and effective vaccines against hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis E is transmitted by the ingestion of contaminated food or drinks. This is a common cause of hepatitis outbreaks in developing areas and is increasingly recognized as an important cause of the disease in developed countries. Safe vaccines have been found against it; however, they have not been widely distributed.