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Hepatitis C
 
What Is It?
      Hepatitis C is caused by the hepatitis C virus (a.k.a., HCV) that’s most commonly spread through direct blood to blood contact. 
 
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Þ    At first, there are no symptoms
Þ    Jaundice (yellow eyes or skin)
Þ    Fatigue      
Þ    Dark brown urine
Þ    Abdominal pain
Þ    Joint pain
Þ    Nausea & loss of appetite
 
How do I get it?
Þ    Hepatitis C is spread through blood contact which can occur through:
o       Unprotected sex
o       Sharing used needles or drug related instruments (i.e., straws, pipes, spoons)
o       Getting a tattoo or body piercing with unsterile equipment
o       Sharing personal household items such as razor or toothbrush
Þ    Mothers can also spread Hepatitis C to their unborn child
 
How do I get tested for it?
          A simple blood test from your healthcare provider can detect hepatitis C antibodies. NOTE: it can take 2 week to 6 months for antibodies to appear.
 
What happens if it’s not treated?
          If left untreated, Hepatitis C can cause loss of liver function resulting in not be able to digest food and store vitamins and minerals. When the body can no longer filter chemicals and substances (including toxins, air, food, drinks), a liver transplant may be needed.
 
How is it treated?
          For many, no treatment is needed.  If someone has abnormal liver test results, treatment may be necessary. If someone is suffering from liver failure, a liver transplant can be an option.
 
How do I prevent it?
Þ    DO NOT share needles or drug related equipment
Þ    DO NOT share razors or toothbrushes
Þ    Wearing latex gloves
Þ    Use condoms during sex
Þ    Use only sterile equipment when getting a tattoo or piercing
 
 
 

 

Queen's Heath, Counselling and Disabilities Services

Queen's Heath, Counselling and Disabilities Services, Queen's University
healthed@queensu.ca