Hepatitis is a word that means inflammation of the liver. This inflammation can be caused by one of the five Hepatitis viruses or medications, like herbal supplements, over-the-counter meds, or antibiotics. Determining the true cause of hepatitis can only be accomplished by consulting with a physician, preferably a gastroenteologist or hepatologist.
Hepatitis A,B, and C are the most common forms of the virus in the US. Hepatitis A and B are both vaccinated against in the US and are not problematic for the general public here if vaccinations have been administered. Hepatitis C currently does not have a vaccine, although there are current trials ongoing to test a potential Hepatitis C (HCV) vaccine for future implementation.
Hepatitis C has been a very expensive and uncomfortable disease to treat up until very recently. There may be as many as 4 million people in the US with Hepatitis C. Many people with the disease don't know that they have it until many years have passed and symptoms begin to present themselves. 75 % of the infected American population are individuals born between 1945 and 1960. Definite identification of why this age group is so significantly predisposed to HCV is unknown.
Hepatitis C is a blood borne virus and a simple blood test can detect the virus. Everyone in this Baby Boomer age group, anyone who ever received blood transfusions or organ donations before 1992, and anyone who has ever injected drugs should receive screening for Hepatitis C.
The Good News on Hepatitis C
A cure for Hepatitis C has been developed and is now on the market. There is a 90-95% success rate in curing Hepatitis C with these new drugs. Two brands that have recently been FDA approved and launched in the US pharmaceuticals markets are Harvoni and Sovaldi.
Dr Chris Christensen worked on the clinical trials of the new medications for treatment of Hepatitis C in Baton Rouge at Gastroenterology Associates. He is eager to get all at-risk individuals tested and to get those that test positive for Hepatitis C on these new medications. He discussed Hepatitis C and the treatments for Hepatitis Awareness Month with us.
Gastroenterology Associates encourages everyone to get tested if you are a Baby Boomer or in one of the at-risk groups mentioned above. It's easy to have blood drawn when you come in for your screening appointments. Simply ask your doctor to help you get screened for Hepatitis C.
- were born between 1945 and 1960
- received a blood transfusion or had surgery before 1992
- illicit drug use by sharing needles or snorting cocaine
- had a sexual contact with someone infected with hepatitis C
- have hepatitis B or HIV
- have unexplained elevation of liver enzymes
If it's time to schedule a consult, our team of board certified gastroenterologist are waiting to get you in as soon as possible. Click the link below or call 225.927.1190 to schedule with our staff.
Disclaimer: All information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not replace the consultative advice and experienced feedback from your physician. Always consult with your physicians on any of your questions and concerns.