The diagnosis of hepatitis B infection may have a significant impact on a patient’s daily life. The illness carries some risk for transmission through exposure to the blood of an infected individual and through sexual activity if the partner is not vaccinated against HBV. Additionally HBV is often a chronic illness requiring regular medical follow-up visits and at times long-term therapy. Finally, since HBV infection may lead to liver cirrhosis and sometimes to liver cancer, there is the possibility that a liver transplant operation will be required.
Despite the possibility of serious complications, the overall outcome for HBV patients tends to be excellent in most cases.
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It is difficult to imagine having a disease as serious as hepatitis C without knowing you have it, but that’s precisely the situation with as many as 60 percent of the people infected with the virus. That figure represents a vast number of individuals—170 million to 200 million worldwide are estimated to have hepatitis C. In the United States, nearly 15,000 people die ever)” year from complications of HCV, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control expects that figure to double or possibly even triple over the next 20 years.
Most people believe that HCV is transmitted through the blood during transfusion or intravenous (needle-injection) drug use. But the virus may also be transmitted through intranasal drug use, as in the snorting of cocaine, when tiny blood vessels in the nose burst and the virus gets into the bloodstream. Healthcare workers are at risk from a needle stick, and some cases have been traced to skin penetrations from tattoos or body piercing. Likewise, sexual contact is always a possible mode of transmission. Studies have shown that people with multiple partners have a higher risk of acquiring chronic hepatitis C than people who are abstinent or monogamous.
For best results in households that include a known carrier, uninfected individuals should exercise caution with any products
that may be exposed to blood or body tissue. No one should share razors or toothbrushes, as these practices can lead to the spread of HCY.
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Like acute hepatitis B, acute hepatitis C is a virus-caused inflammation of the liver that lasts six months or less. Most acute HCV patients exhibit no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected. When symptoms do appear, they resemble the flu or the symptoms associated with many other viral infections: fatigue, weakness, muscle or joint aches, and occasionally a rash. About one-fourth of acute HCV patients exhibit some jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and sometimes skin), providing the clue that the target of this infection is the liver. ‘
Acute HCV is usually detected through blood tests. The tests will show that transaminase levels, AST and ALT, are elevated for six to eight weeks, and then gradually normalize. Bilirubin levels, however, are usually normal, and cholestatic liver enzymes, AP and
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