Hepatitis C

A microscopic image of the hep c virusHepatitis C is a liver disease.

Hepatitis (HEP-ah-TY-tis) makes your liver swell and stops it from working
right.

You need a healthy liver. The liver does many things to keep you alive. The
liver fights infections and stops bleeding. It removes drugs and other poisons
from your blood. The liver also stores energy for when you need it.

What causes hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is caused by a virus.

A virus is a germ that causes sickness. (For example, the flu is caused by a
virus.) People can pass viruses to each other. The virus that causes hepatitis C
is called the hepatitis C virus.

How could I get hepatitis C?

Hepatitis C is spread by contact with an infected person’s blood. You

could get hepatitis C by

  • getting pricked with a needle that has infected blood on it (hospitalsharing drug needles
  • workers can get hepatitis C this way)
  • having sex with an infected person, especially if you or your partner has
    other sexually transmitted diseases
  • being born to a mother with hepatitis C

In rare cases, you could get hepatitis C by

  • getting a tattoo or body piercing with unsterilized, dirty
    tools

You can NOT get hepatitis C by

  • shaking hands with an infected person
  • hugging an infected person
  • kissing an infected person
  • sitting next to an infected person

Could I get hepatitis C from a blood transfusion?

If you had a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992, you might
have hepatitis C.

Before 1992, doctors could not check blood for hepatitis C, and some people
received infected blood. If you had a blood transfusion or organ transplant
before 1992, ask a doctor to test you for hepatitis C. (See “What are the tests
for hepatitis C?”)

Illustration of a Doctor talking to a patient.
A doctor can test you for hepatitis
C.

What are the symptoms?

Many people with hepatitis C don’t have
symptoms.

However, some people with hepatitis C feel like they have the flu.

Illustration of a man in bed.

So, you might

  • feel tired
  • feel sick to your stomach
  • have a fever
  • not want to eat
  • have stomach pain
  • have diarrhea

Some people have

  • dark yellow urine
  • light-colored stools
  • yellowish eyes and skin

If you have symptoms or think you might have hepatitis C, go to a doctor.

What are the tests for hepatitis C?

Doctor taking a blood sample from a woman's arm.
The doctor will take some blood to check for hepatitis
C.

To check for hepatitis C, the doctor will test your blood.

These tests show if you have hepatitis C and how serious it is.

The doctor may also do a liver biopsy.

A biopsy (BYE-op-see) is a simple test. The doctor removes a tiny piece of
your liver through a needle. The doctor checks the piece of liver for signs of
hepatitis C and liver damage.

How is hepatitis C treated?

Health care provider, wearing gloves, drawing medicine into a syringe.
Hepatitis C is treated through shots of
medicine.

Hepatitis C is treated with a drug called peginterferon, usually in
combination with the drug ribavirin.

You may need surgery if you have hepatitis C for many years. Over time,
hepatitis C can cause your liver to stop working. If that happens, you will need
a new liver. The surgery is called a liver transplant. It involves taking out
the old, damaged liver and putting in a new, healthy one from a donor.

How can I protect myself?

You can protect yourself and others from hepatitis C.

Man taking a syringe out of a bag.
If you inject drugs, use your own
needles.
  • Don’t share drug needles with anyone.
  • Wear gloves if you have to touch anyone’s blood.
  • If you have several sex partners, use a condom during sex.
  • Don’t use an infected person’s toothbrush, razor, or anything else that
    could have blood on it.
  • If you get a tattoo or body piercing, make sure it is done with clean tools.
  • If you have hepatitis C, don’t give your blood or plasma. The person who
    receives it could become infected with the virus.

For More Information

You can also get information about hepatitis C from these groups:

American Liver Foundation (ALF)
75 Maiden Lane, Suite 603
New
York, NY 10038–4810
Phone: 1–800–GO–LIVER (465–4837),
1–888–4HEP–USA
(443–7872),
or 212–668–1000
Fax: 212–483–8179
Email: [email protected]
Internet:
www.liverfoundation.org

Hepatitis Foundation International (HFI)
504 Blick Drive
Silver
Spring, MD 20904–2901
Phone: 1–800–891–0707 or 301–622–4200
Fax:
301–622–4702
Email: [email protected]
Internet: www.hepfi.org

Image of the Hepatitis A and B booklets.

Acknowledgments

The individuals listed here provided editorial guidance or facilit

The New Diabetes Device In Town

diabetes conceptual meter(BlackDoctor.org) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines to medical device makers developing a potentially revolutionary device for type 1 diabetes, saying they should speed its delivery to patients.

The guidelines reflect months of behind-the-scenes negotiations with patient advocates, medical device makers and researchers working to develop an artificial pancreas — a complex system of pumps and sensors aimed at automating the care and treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes advocates had feared the FDA would set the bar too high, making regulations so cumbersome that it would delay access to diabetics in the United States.

“This guidance was developed in a way to account for innovation,” Charles “Chip” Zimliki, who heads an FDA initiative to speed up availability of an artificial pancreas, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

He said the new draft guidance gives researchers and medical device makers a clear set of requirements for approving clinical trials that can show the technology is safe in real-world settings.

“We’re showing them a path that I think can get them to a safe and effective product in the U.S.,” he said.

The devices are meant to help the 3 million Americans with type 1 diabetes, a disease in which the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin.

Patients must monitor their blood sugar and inject themselves with insulin throughout the day to prevent diabetic complications such as blindness, and heart and kidney disease.

An artificial pancreas would continuously monitor blood glucose levels and automatically deliver the right amount of insulin to the body when it was needed. But the potential for malfunction of these complex devices to cause serious harm raises the stakes for proving their safety.

“We understand how this device could change the lives of millions of Americans with diabetes, and we want our safety and effectiveness review to give patients the confidence that the device works,” said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

“Guardedly Optimistic”

Patient advocates feared the FDA would take an excessively cautious stance, pointing to requirements issued in June for a very early version of an artificial pancreas device that is already sold in 50 countries but not the United States.

“It was a guidance for a product that had already been approved around the world, had been used by thousands of people with significant positive impact, and the U.S. was significantly behind on that front,” Aaron Kowalski, lead researcher at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, told a media briefing.

The influential group ran an aggressive lobbying effort to urge a different approach for the much more complex artificial pancreas systems now in development.

JDRF Chief Executive Jeffrey Brewer said the group was “guardedly optimistic” about the FDA’s draft guidelines and that they showed the agency had listened to researcher concerns. The group will review them in greater detail in the coming weeks.

The artificial pancreas systems are worn outside of the body. They combine the continuous glucose monitor that takes blood sugar readings through a tiny sensor placed just under the skin with an insulin pump, all driven by a computer “brain” or algorithm that calculates the right insulin dose.

“There are no systems on the market now that dose insulin automatically. This is an opportunity to get the U.S. back in line with the rest of the world and really pave the road to improve patient outcomes,” Kowalski said.

The FDA guidelines recommend a three-phase clinical trial series that would begin by monitoring patients carefully in a hospital and then lead to testing in the real world.

They suggest ways researchers can use existing safety and effectiveness data for the system’s different components, including clinical studies conducted abroad.
The final version will help manufacturers and researchers seek approval for conducting clinical trials and for their finished products. FDA did not provide a timetable.

“I think they did really well,” said Dr. David Nathan, a diabetes expert at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor of medicine at Harvard.

Nathan served on a committee put together by the JDRF to advise the FDA on the guidelines and is leading one research team out of about a half dozen globally that are developing an artificial pancreas.