(BlackDoctor.org) — (BlackDoctor.org) — Coinfection with HIV and the hepatitis C virus (HCV) or hepatitis B virus is a growing public health concern. Because the diseases are spread in similar ways — notably through shared use of needles to inject drugs and sexual activity — many people are coinfected with HIV and HCV, HIV and HBV, or even all three viruses.
An estimated 200,000-300,000 people in the U.S. have both HIV and HCV. Experts believe that about 25% of Americans with HIV also have HCV; conversely some 10% of people with HCV are thought to also have HIV.
Hepatitis is a viral infection that attacks liver cells. There are three main types of hepatitis: A, B and C.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus that does not produce long-term or chronic liver problems. A can help prevent hepatitis A infection, but if you get hep A, it will usually resolve itself within six months. vaccine
Hepatitis B and C can cause cirrhosis, cancer and death. A vaccine to prevent hepatitis B exists, and while hep B cannot be cured, it can be treated. No vaccine exists for ; however, the treatment can cure it. hepatitis C
Hepatitis Risk Factors and Symptoms
In the United States they tend to include the following:
- Hepatitis A: contaminated food and water
- Hepatitis B: sexual contact
- Hepatitis C: contact with infected blood, usually by sharing needles and syringes while injecting drugs
While it’s often difficult to protect oneself from hepatitis A, hepatitis B and C are more preventable:
- Practice safer sex.
- Don’t use injection drugs, or at the very least, never share needles.
- Enroll in a clean-needle exchange program.
- Don’t share razors or toothbrushes.
- Patronize only those tattoo and body-piercing facilities that practice sterile techniques and use clean products.
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B.
The three types of hepatitis share some symptoms, which may include general fatigue, nausea, yellow skin, vomiting, light-colored stools and dark urine. But many patients with hepatitis have no symptoms at all. It is especially important to know whether or not you have been exposed to hepatitis B or C.
If you have any of the risk factors–and particularly if you do and are pregnant–ask your doctor for a hepatitis C antibody test and hepatitis B antigen and antibody test. There is also a new “rapid test” for hepatitis C that provides results in 20 minutes, similar to the rapid test for HIV.