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What is Hepatitis C? Hepatitis C is a liver disease that is caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus enters the liver cells, uses the cell's inner genetic machinery to make copies of itself, which then infect more cells. There is no cure. There is a 1-2 year treatment that works 50 percent of the time (genotype specific) How Hepatitis C is Transmitted? Hepatitis C is spread from one person to another by direct exposure to infected blood or blood products. From the blood of the infected to the bodily fluid of another's eye, cut, open sore, damaged vein, (inside nose, vagina, anus etc..) ...any means to a blood artery. Who has Hepatitis C? According to the Hep C Coalition up to 1 in 15 people in the world carry the virus. (The U.S. Census Bureau reported a world population of 6,396,731,523 in October 2004). According to the American Liver Association 1 in 50 people in the United States are effected. (The U.S. Census Bureau reported a U.S. population of 294,619,855 in October 2004). Why are the numbers so high? The quality of life for the Hepatitis C infected can be unaffected before the first sign of liver disease. The Center for Disease Control reports that for 80 percent of carriers there are no signs or symptoms. People carry the Hepatitis C Virus and dont know it. People transmit the Hepatitis C Virus and dont know it. What happens next? Hepatitis C Central predicts for the United States that in the next 10 to 20 years there will be a: 60 percent increase in the incidents of cirrhosis of the liver. 68 percent increase in liver cancer. 223 percent increase liver death rate. 279 percent increase in liver failure. 528 percent increase in the need for liver transplants. It has already begun. Personal insurance rates are skyrocketing. What Can You Do? Make a DIFFERENCE. Be AWARE. Join or Support a group already fighting the fight. Stop the silence around this disease. Openly talk of it to those you care about GET TESTED! Please pick up your results! Over 400 THOUSAND victims of HCV in the US have absolutely no idea how or where they contracted this disease.
http://www.hepatitis-central.com/hcv/biopsy/toc.html http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=hep+c+biopsy+info
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March 17, 2008 3 Healthy Lifestyle Choices to Make Now People with Hepatitis C can slow the liver's cycle of inflammation by making these three healthy lifestyle changes. By eliminating certain risk factors, one can live a long life with HCV. by Nicole Cutler, L.Ac. The number of people affected by Hepatitis C continues to grow. Unfortunately, the medicines used to treat this virus have not yet been able to defeat it. As of 2008, the current standard of treatment for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), pegylated interferon and ribavirin, remains effective for approximately only half of all cases. Although pegylated interferon and ribavirin can’t help millions of people get rid of this virus, Hepatitis C doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Even though those living with chronic HCV are at a high risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer, eliminating three vices can prevent a worsening of liver health. Understanding Liver Inflammation Living with chronic HCV means constantly battling liver inflammation. If this inflammation rages unabatedly, it causes liver disease to progress. The progressive cascade of Hepatitis C and liver inflammation is as follows: · HCV results in the death of liver cells. · The death of liver cells triggers the dispatching of inflammatory cells to the affected area. Inflammation begins the processes that lead to fibrosis, the body’s response to liver damage. · Inflammation triggers a reaction by a group of cells in the liver called stellate cells. · Infected and inflamed liver cells release chemical signals (called cytokines), which activate leukocytes (white blood cells) from outside the liver to travel to the affected area. · The cytokines and leukocytes team up with Kupffer cells to signal the stellate cells to produce and lay down collagen fibers between liver cells. A fibrous protein that forms scar tissue, collagen is the body’s attempt to limit the spread of infection to other cells. · Normally, as an infection or injury resolves, the collagen matrix enclosing the injury is dissolved and activated stellate cells die off, allowing the tissue to return to normal. In chronic HCV, this matrix of collagen grows more rapidly than it can dissolve. · The collagen builds up scar tissue around cells causing living liver cells to lose their access to the nutrient and oxygen rich blood flow. · The restricted access to blood causes even more quarantined liver cells to die. As such, HCV progressively scars the liver. This vicious cycle of inflammation causing scar tissue must be stopped to prevent a person’s chronic HCV from causing more and more liver damage. Vice Elimination According to Norah Terrault, MD, MPH, from the University of California, San Francisco, “Hepatitis C is a major public health concern and the number of patients developing complications of chronic disease is on the rise. It is essential that we identify risk factors that can be modified to prevent and/or lessen the progression of HCV to fibrosis, cirrhosis and even liver cancer. These complications of chronic HCV infection will significantly contribute to the overall burden of liver disease in the U.S. and will continue to increase in the next decade.� By eliminating three unhealthful habits, people with HCV can single-handedly reduce the inflammation their liver must contend with. Although any toxin puts a greater strain on liver function, the following directly contribute to heightened inflammation with HCV: 1. Alcohol – There are many reasons why eliminating alcohol is imperative for living long with Hepatitis C. Researchers have demonstrated that alcohol promotes proliferation of Hepatitis C in human liver cells. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia found that alcohol increases the activity of a protein called nuclear factor kappa B, which causes HCV to replicate. Aside from the cycle of inflammation that occurs with Hepatitis C, alcohol consumption on its own increases cytokine levels. Additionally, metabolized alcohol is believed to activate stellate cells directly. All of the chemical processes that occur when a person drinks alcohol exponentially worsen the damage that HCV does to the liver. 2. Marijuana – According to a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, patients with HCV should not use marijuana (cannabis) *daily*. The researchers led by Terrault found that HCV patients who used cannabis daily were at significantly higher risk of moderate to severe liver fibrosis, or tissue scarring. Additionally, patients with moderate to heavy alcohol use combined with regular cannabis use experienced an even greater risk of liver fibrosis. 3. Fatty Food – Despite campaigns claiming that eliminating saturated fat from the diet preserves heart health, hepatologists agree that it also preserves liver health. Research from 2007 demonstrated that a high fat diet kills regulatory T cells in the liver. Less of these specialized immune cells allow a fatty liver to worsen to steatohepatitis, fatty liver with inflammation. This likely occurs because regulatory T cell death is associated with increased inflammatory cytokine production. Although removing these three vices from one’s life may be a monumental life change for someone, it can also save their liver. The increase in inflammation that drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana and eating saturated fat can cause allows a liver with HCV to spiral into advanced liver disease. By abandoning these three unhealthful habits, the liver gets a respite from the inflammation cycle – perhaps enough for the body to break down some of the collagen matrix that contributes to the continuation of liver cell death. References: http://familydoctor.org, Hepatitis C, American Academy of Family Physicians, 2008. http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov, Alcohol and the Liver, National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2008. www.cdc.gov, Hepatitis C Fact Sheet, US Department of Health and Human Services, 2008. www.hepctrust.org.uk, Liver damage and fibrosis during the chronic stage, Hepatitis C Trust, 2008. www.medicalnewstoday.com, How Alcohol Use May Worsen Hepatitis C Infection, John Ascenzi, MediLexicon International, Ltd., 2007. www.medicalnewstoday.com, Risk Of Hepatitis C-Related Liver Damage Increased By Regular Marijuana Use, MediLexicon International Ltd., 2008. www.sciencedaily.com, High-fat Diet Makes Mice Susceptible To Liver Injury, ScienceDaily LLC 2008. www.who.int, Hepatitis C, World Health Organization, 2008.
Hepatitis C Myths and Facts Fact Hepatitis C is a virus that infects the liver and circulates at very high levels as much as millions of little viral particles in a droplet of an infected person's blood. The virus is transmitted by blood-to-blood contact such as occurs with a blood transfusion, receiving a tattoo from a dirty needle, during intranasal cocaine snorting when sharing razor blades, or when sharing intravenous needles. The virus can have a prolonged asymptomatic period for many months to years and can come to attention through routine screening, at the time of blood donation, or when a person infected with the virus develops symptoms of the disease. The symptoms, which are fairly nonspecific, include fatigue and joint aches. Occasionally, the disease is not diagnosed until its end stages at which time liver failure has ensued. There are many myths about hepatitis C that are perceived as truths. This article will debunk some of these myths and provide the facts about this serious disease. FACT Hep C reaches across all ages, genders and lifestyles. There is a misconception and stigma that it only affects drug users. WRONG. It affects nurses, doctors, manicurists, veterans, soccer moms, people with tattoos, and people that had transfusions and other surgery. FACT Today, there is a treatment available that puts some of us in remission but causes other serious problems. For many, the drugs are a trip to hell. There still is no cure or vaccine. Myth #1 Everyone infected with hepatitis C will eventually die from hepatitis C. Not true. One of the most difficult aspects of counseling people with regard to hepatitis C is the varied course that the disease may take from one person to the next. This can be a result of multiple factors including: lifestyle decisions such as the consumption of alcohol, underlying health conditions, which may suppress the immune system, such as diabetes or HIV, the time of infection with the virus, and the strength of the strain of virus with which a person is infected. The virus can run a relatively short course to liver destruction in a few brief years or the virus can infect a person for more than 60 years without that person developing liver failure. This variance in symptoms makes decisions with regard to managing hepatitis C difficult, as they must be individualized. One way in which these decisions can be individualized is through analysis of information obtained on routine serum blood test, through physical examination and a detailed review of body systems, and, finally, through the gold standard for assessing the extent of liver disease - the liver biopsy. The liver biopsy affords the opportunity to look at a piece of the liver under a microscope and assess exactly the extent of liver damage. Myth #2 Medical treatment is always difficult for the person with hepatitis C. Not true. The standard treatment for hepatitis C is either Interferon or Interferon in combination with Ribavirin. These drugs modulate the immune system to help it attack the virus and suppress inflammation in the liver as well as inhibit fibrosis, which is the laying down of scar tissue. One of the main concerns with hepatitis C is that the treatments have significant side effects that can range from flu-like symptoms consisting of fevers, joint aches, and malaise or fatigue to frank depression and even occasionally psychosis. Hepatitis C Internet chat rooms are filled with horrendous tales of anguish about treatment. Balance needs to be used while assessing these reports. Nevertheless, there are people who take these treatments without noticing any side effects whatsoever. Therefore, side effects need to be monitored closely and treatment tailored to each individual as they proceed forward with medication. Myth #3 Hepatitis C is easily transmitted sexually. Not true. It is remarkable how difficult it is to transmit hepatitis C through sexual intercourse. As it turns out hepatitis B, another hepatitis virus, is one of the easiest systemic infections to transmit through sexual contact. HIV, with which we are all familiar as the cause of AIDS, is actually more difficult to transmit sexually than hepatitis B. Hepatitis C has been associated with a slightly increased risk of transmission in people with a history of multiple sexual partners and those with other sexually transmitted diseases. Nevertheless, in monogamous couples, one of whom is infected with hepatitis C, the rate of transmission over decades of intercourse is relatively negligible. It is in the range of one to two percent, which may be confounded by other routes of transmission as well. Use of barrier contraceptives seems prudent, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends contraceptive use particularly for those with multiple sexual partners. Myth #4 Hepatitis C symptoms will not bother me if I take care of myself. Not true. While it is generally true that hepatitis C is more aggressive in individuals that consume large quantities of alcohol or have other health problems, it is not universally the case. Even in the individual who abstains from drinking, exercises regularly, and eats appropriately, the disease can progress to liver failure and lead to death. Myth #5 I can cure hepatitis C by taking natural herbs and alternative medications. Not true. As it turns out, there are remarkable quantities of over-the-counter tonics and alternative health elixirs for hepatitis C. This is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that has sprung out of the frustration of the subset of individuals unable to be cured by traditional medical therapy. Given the financial incentives for herb and alternative medicine sales and the lack of regulation of this important market, a great deal of prudence is appropriate. It is important to remember that the purveyor of milk thistle need not demonstrate that the "treatment" is effective to the FDA the way that all pharmaceutical companies must. Currently, there are many trials underway to study many of these particular tonics, but the vast majority of them appear to be about as useful as placebo pills. However, we need to wait for the final results of these studies and maintain an open perspective. It is quite reasonable to expect that some of the tonics that are antioxidants, such as Vitamin E, may have some benefit. This is an area where recommendations are evolving and the most important caveat is for the infected individual to have a healthy dose of skepticism when analyzing any claims of cure with plant extracts or other tonics. Certainly some of these agents may merit use, but we are relatively inexperienced in being able to define which of these alternative therapies is the best for people to take. Undoubtedly, some of these tonics can be dangerous and it's prudent for people to always keep their physicians aware of alternative medicine use. Myth #6 A man taking Interferon in combination with Ribavirin shouldn't worry about impregnating a woman while on treatment. Not true. Interferon and Ribavirin carry strict precautions for people to use two forms of contraception during treatment and for six months following treatment. People are strongly advised to use cautious contraception because the drug causes birth defects and is actually quite potent at causing fetal loss as well. While the experiences of people becoming pregnant while on the treatment is fairly limited, it appears that it is quite difficult for women who are taking the medication to get pregnant due to fetal toxicity. Should a woman get pregnant while on Ribavirin, the concern of damage to her fetus is quite deep. The impact on men is more difficult to assess. Ribavirin has been detected in the semen of men taking the medicine. Since it does cause fetal loss and birth defects, it raises a great deal of concern that even men taking Ribavirin may father children with birth defects or induce fetal loss. It is therefore extremely important for people to heed the advice of using two forms of birth control while taking the medication. The reason for the recommendation that birth control be continued for six months following treatment is that Ribavirin lingers in the body for a very long period of time, even after you stop taking it. So, you're not completely out of the woods nor are you safe from the risks of birth defects and fetal loss until six months after treatment has stopped. Myth #7 There is no point in taking Interferon and Ribavirin if cirrhosis (liver scarring) has already set in. Not true. Actually, while the response rate to treatments may be somewhat lower in patients with more advanced liver disease, the benefit of treatment may be amplified in the sense that further liver failure may be delayed by placing someone on treatment. Assuming that platelet and white blood counts are at adequately high levels and decompensated liver disease has not set in, it is actually quite reasonable to treat people who already have cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. This decision to treat or defer therapy needs to be made on an individual basis. Myth #8 Everyone should be placed on Interferon for years and years, even if they don't clear the virus. Not true. The decision to treat hepatitis C needs to be individualized by the treating physician and the patient. Many people may benefit from treatment using FDA-approved regimens, but Interferon treatment is not for everyone due to its side effects and potential toxicities that make it impossible for some people to take Interferon treatment. For people who tolerate the treatment reasonably well, some people believe that treating hepatitis C with Interferon for periods of time beyond the routine initial six to 12 month period, may be of benefit even if the virus is suppressed, rather than cleared. It turns out that Interferon appears to inhibit the formation of scar tissue in the liver and so even in the fifty to eighty percent of people infected with the virus who do not respond persistently to treatment, there may be some rationale for long-term suppressive treatment with Interferon. This question is being studied in a National Institutes of Health-sponsored multi-center trial as well as being studied in drug company-sponsored trials. Nevertheless, there are some physicians who advocate treating everyone with suppressive Interferon therapy. As the risk of side effects can accumulate over time it is certainly prudent to consider long-term suppressive treatment. Optimally, this is done in the context of a well-designed clinical trial during which side effects are carefully monitored. People should be aware that the risks of long-term suppressive treatment are still being analyzed. Myth: Once the diagnosis of hepatitis C has been made, you need to put your affairs in order and assume the worst. Not true. Although the disease can be quite devastating and lead to death in some instances, for many people, the diagnosis of hepatitis C is akin to being diagnosed with other chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure or diabetes, and does not necessarily carry with it a dire outcome in the near future. It is important to maintain this perspective as you interact with your physicians, as a devastating outcome is not predetermined by the diagnosis. Chronic liver disease rose to one of the top ten causes of death in this country in 1998 according to CDC statistics. It is predicted that the need for liver transplant will increase five hundred percent between 1998 and 2008, in large part due to hepatitis C. Many people are likely to become personally touched by this illness, whether they have a friend, family member, or they have the disease themselves. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is not always the outcome for everyone. Myth #10 Everyone with hepatitis C is depressed. Not true. Not everyone with hepatitis C is depressed, although being chronically ill can cause people to feel down. One of the risks of treatment with Interferon is increasing anxiety or depression, and it is often difficult to determine whether these effects are due to the illness itself or due to the effects of treatment. It is important to remain aware of the risk of depression and treat it appropriately, if indicated. Conclusion Hepatitis C has been infecting millions of Americans for decades, but it is only within the last decade that routine tests have been available to help identify the millions who are infected and offer anti-viral therapy. Great strides have been made against this pernicious condition with persistent elimination with current treatments being achieved for many. For those who remain infected, there is a tremendous amount of hope as we develop a better understanding of lifestyle modifications and new treatments that may suppress or help clear the virus in the future. Even when liver failure ensues, the lifesaving option of liver transplantation is a reality for thousands of Americans due to the altruism of liver donors. Further advances are under development as the medical community rushes to serve the millions of Americans whose livers are under the attack of hepatitis C, and the future holds the promise of medicines that may cure a large portion of the population infected with this chronic virus. ***Create your own grassroots campaign with Soapbox by Congress.org. Soapbox is the most effective way to get others to write their Congressman on your issues. Spread the word and get others involved today. Soapbox: http://capwiz.com/congressorg/utr/1/FFIHDSJITA/LAZIDSJIVA/
Letter to People Without Hep C Current mood: calm Category: Life Letter to People Without Hepatitis C Hep C aka The Dragon I did not write this letter but it applies to the majority.... D. W. Having Hepatitis means many things change and a lot of them are invisible. Unlike having cancer or being hurt in an accident, most people do not understand even a little about HCV and its effects and of those that think they know, many are actually misinformed. In the spirit of informing those who wish to understand ... These are the things that I would like you to understand about me before you judge me... Please understand that being sick doesn't mean I'm not still a human being. I have to spend most of my day in considerable pain and exhaustion and if you visit I probably don't seem like much fun to be with, but I'm still me stuck inside this body. I still worry about life and work and my family and friends and most of the time I'd still like to hear you talk about yours too. Please understand the difference between "happy" and "healthy". When you've got the flu you probably feel miserable with it, but I've been sick for years. I can't be miserable all the time, in fact I work hard at not being miserable. So if you're talking to me and I sound happy, it means I'm happy. That's all. It doesn't mean that I'm not in a lot of pain or extremely tired or that I'm getting better or any of those things. Please, don't say, "Oh, you're sounding better!". I am not sounding better, I am sounding happy. If you want to comment on that, you're welcome. Please understand that being able to stand up for ten minutes, doesn't necessarily mean that I can stand up for twenty minutes, or an hour. And, just because I managed to stand up for thirty minutes yesterday doesn't mean that I can do the same today. With a lot of diseases you're either paralyzed, or you can move. With this one it gets more confusing. Please repeat the above paragraph substituting, "sitting", "walking", "thinking", "being sociable" and so on ... it applies to everything. That's what Hepatitis does to you. Please understand that HCV or HBV is variable. It's quite possible (for me, it's common) that one day I am able to walk to the park and back, while the next day I'll have trouble getting to the kitchen. Please don't attack me when I'm ill by saying, "But you did it before!", if you want me to do something then ask if I can. In a similar vein, I may need to cancel an invitation at the last minute, if this happens please do not take it personally. Please understand that "getting out and doing things" does not make me feel better. Telling me that I need a treadmill or that I just need to loose (or gain)weight, get this exercise machine, join this gym, try these classes... may frustrate me to tears and is not correct... if I was capable of doing these things, don't you know that I would? I am working with my doctor and physical therapist and am already doing the exercise and diet that I am suppose to do. Another statement that hurts is, "You just need to push yourself more, exercise harder..." Obviously HCV deals directly with muscles, and because our muscles don't repair themselves the way your muscles do, this does far more damage than good and could result in recovery time in days or weeks or months from a single activity. Also, Hepatitis may cause secondary depression (wouldn't you get depressed if you were hurting and exhausted for years on end!?) but it is not created by depression. Please understand that if I say I have to sit down/lie down/take these pills now, that I do have to do it right now - it can't be put off or forgotten just because I'm out for the day (or whatever). Hepatitis does not forgive. If you want to suggest a cure to me, don't. It's not because I don't appreciate the thought, and it's not because I don't want to get well. It's because I have had almost every single one of my friends suggest one at one point or another. At first I tried them all, but then I realized that I was using up so much energy trying things that I was making myself sicker, not better. If there was something that cured, or even helped, all people with Hepatitis then we'd know about it. This is not a drug-company conspiracy, there is worldwide networking (both on and off the Internet) between people with Hepatitis if something worked we would KNOW. If after reading that, you still want to suggest a cure, then do it, but don't expect me to rush out and try it. I'll take what you said and discuss it with my doctor. In many ways I depend on you - people who are not sick - I need you to visit me when I am too sick to go out... Sometimes I need you to help me with the shopping, cooking or cleaning. I may need you to take me to the doctor or to the physical therapist. I need you on a different level too ... you're my link to the outside world... if you don't come to visit me, then I might not get to see you... and as much as it's possible, I need you to understand me.
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