Hepatitis C Is A Blood Borne Pathogen

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Hepatitis C is a blood-borne pathogen that is expected to cause over 190,000 deaths between 2010 and 2019.1 HIV is about 5 times less common than hepatitis C virus (HCV) and in 2007 deaths due to HCV surpassed those due to HIV. The infection is more common in populations of high-risk (the homeless and prisoners) who predominantly do not participate in surveys, therefor the number infected with HCV is actually higher than reported. There are a number of risk factors for the infection, but injection-drug use is number one. HCV is in the Flaviviridae family and is a single-stranded RNA virus.1 It is missing a polymerase that proofreads and activates viral mutations. There are six main genotypes of HCV, 1 to 6. The genotypes are then…show more content…
Acute HCV usually presents with little to no symptoms and goes undiagnosed.1 The Hepatitis C RNA can be seen after 1 to 2 weeks of exposure and the levels increase at a fast rate in the first weeks. Another level that can be detected is the rise in ALT, this shows hepatic trauma and cell death. Infected individual’s ALT levels may be 10 times the higher normal limits. Symptoms of acute HCV, if seen, are usually mild such as fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain, or jaundice and develop 2-12 weeks after exposure.2 Most people (85%) with acute infection will end up with a chronic HCV infection, which is when HCV RNA is detected for 6 or more months. Like acute HCV, most chronic infections present as asymptomatic, but the most common symptom is continual fatigue. As a result of chronic HCV infection, 20% of patients will get cirrhosis which usually takes 20-25 years to develop.1, 2 The HCV virus itself is not lethal, but the progression to the other diseases it causes like cirrhosis of the liver is lethal. The goal of the treatment is to eliminate the HCV infection and stop chronic infection, cirrhosis, and death.2 Hepatitis C therapy is designed for patients that have not been treated before and have evidence of HCV RNA, high ALT levels, compensated liver disease, or chronic HCV. Prior to the start of therapy genotyping, HCV test, and possibly a liver biopsy will be performed. Nonpharmacologic therapies can be used such as
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