Hepatitis C Essay

1831 words - 7 pages

Hepatitis CI have decided to talk to you today about Hepatitis C, a viral infection that has reached epidemic proportions in Canada and the United States.Like most of you, I knew next to nothing about Hepatitis until someone close to me was diagnosed with it.My brother was diagnosed with Hepatitis C ten years ago and I have had to watch him struggle with the debilitating effects of this illness since that time.After years of investigating different forms of treatment, he has discovered that his body will tolerate none of the conventional medical treatments and he now manages his disease by diet and vitamin supplements to the best of his ability.Hepatitis C is a viral infection that usually attacks the liver but can manifest elsewhere.Until 1989, when HCV was identified, the remaining Hepatitis viruses were referred to as non /A non /B Hepatitis. This discovery of HCV prompted immediate development of a screening device and in 1990 screening of HCV was implemented throughout blood banks. In 1992 testing sensitivity was increased dramatically.Quite simply, Hepatitis C is a disease caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) which has infected your liver. A virus is a very small organism that attaches itself to your healthy cells and forces them to make more of the virus. Your body tries to fight viruses with antibodies, but the Hepatitis C virus is particularly strong; it will change to fight back against your body's defenses.Unfortunately, antibiotics, which kill bacteria are not at all effective against viruses.Although HCV is four times more common than HIV, due to the lack of public awareness, it is sometimes referred to as "The Silent Epidemic".It is the #1 cause of liver transplants in the United States & Canada.Over 4 million Americans (about 2% of U.S. population) and as many as 300,000 Canadians are infected with the Hepatitis C virus.The incubation period for Hepatitis C averages six to seven weeks.It is frequently misdiagnosed as about 70-80% of people show no signs or symptoms of infection until the patients are in the chronic stages of the illness.Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) can occur in 20-30% of those infected. Other general symptoms such as uneasiness, loss of appetite, pain in the stomach area, dark urine and fatigue can be seen in 10-20% of those infected.Only 20-30% of individuals who are infected with acute Hepatitis will recover without treatment.There are many modes of transmission especially through people engaging in high risk behaviors.Before screening of blood, tissue and organs began in 1990, anyone who received donor tissue, blood product or organs through medical donation was at risk of contracting the virus.Recipients of blood clotting factors, for example Factor VIII, before 1992 were also at very high risk.Due to the screening processes now in place, their risk is virtually non-existent, provided proper procedures are always followed in the sterilization & disposal of hypodermic and surgical...

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