Hepatitis C Virus

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Comprehensive Guide to Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

This guide explores the Hepatitis C virus, its strains, symptoms, prevalence in the UK, modes of transmission, and treatment options.

Overview of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)

HCV and its impact on the liver:

  • Causes liver inflammation, cirrhosis, or liver cancer.
  • There are six main strains, with genotype 1 and genotype 3 most common in the UK.

HCV Prevalence and Incubation

Understanding the scope of HCV infection:

  • Estimated 215,000 infected individuals in the UK.
  • Most cases linked to injecting illegal drugs.
  • The disease can incubate for decades, making detection challenging.

Transmission of Hepatitis C

Primary modes of HCV transmission:

  • Illegal injection drug use.
  • Infected donor transfusions or transplants.
  • Occupational exposure, mainly through needle sticks.
  • From infected mother to unborn baby.

Symptoms and Detection of HCV

Recognizing HCV symptoms:

  • Flu-like symptoms, tiredness, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain.
  • A blood test is required for definitive diagnosis.

Treatment of Hepatitis C

Approaches to managing HCV:

  • Lifestyle changes and medication administration.
  • Treatment duration varies depending on the virus strain and individual response.
  • Regular monitoring through blood tests.

Considerations in Hepatitis C Treatment

Important factors in HCV treatment:

  • Potential side effects and interactions with other medications.
  • Special considerations during pregnancy.
  • Variations in treatment efficacy based on the virus strain.

Note: Successful treatment does not grant immunity from future infections.