Essay about Hepatitis C : The Silent Epidemic

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Hepatitis C : The Silent Epidemic

Introduction Did you know that over two hundred million people are infected with the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV)? Unfortunately it is true, and twenty five thousand more are infected each year. Out of these victims, three are acquaintances of mine. They are why I chose to research this Silent Epidemic. In this paper you will not only learn about the virus itself, but also ways to recognize and prevent it. The goal of this is to prevent the further spread of this disease, and furthermore to make you aware of your options if infected.

Statistics Hepatitis C affects approximately 1.8% of the population in the U.S. This accounts for nearly 4 million people. And this number is only growing. It
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Serologic Assays The initial testing for Hepatitis C is through a Serologic Assay. This is a blood test that is examined for signs of the virus. There are two types, ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) and RIBA (Recombinant Immunoblot Assay). ELISA is used most frequently. RIBA was created only as a ‘backup’ test to ensure the results from ELISA were not a false positive. Unfortunately, these tests do not show the degree of infection in the blood.

The results form these tests can be either a negative or positive. If the results are positive, you have been exposed to HCV, and more testing must be done.

Qualitative HCV Test The next tests that would be performed is known as a Qualitative HCV Test. This is also a blood test. This test checks for Polymerase Chain Reactions, which is a specific way of looking for Hepatitis C Viral RNA. This tests shows whether, or not you actually have HCV infecting your system. If you do in fact, have HCV present in your body, it is necessary to properly identify the type.

Genotype Test To identify the type of HCV in your body a Genotype Tests is performed. There are six different genotypes of hepatitis C. The three major genotypes are 1, 2, and 3. Seventy two percent of infected Americans are diagnosed with Genotype 1. Most others in the U.S. are type 2 and 3. By determining the Genotype, appropriate treatment can be decided upon. Doctors have been educated in the treatments that

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