Hepatitis C is typically communicated through being exposed to the blood of an infected person. This can happen through sharing drug-injection equipment (needles, syringes), sexual intercourse with an infected person, blood transfusions, unsterile piercings and body tattoos, and birth.
Similar to HIV, the means by which patients acquire the disease can lead to feelings of shame. In addition to shame, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to decreased levels of HCV testing and treatment as individuals have been staying inside their homes. However, neglecting to test or treat your condition, does not make it go away.
Healthcare professionals continue to urge those exposed to Hepatitis C to pursue treatment. Due to medical advancements, Hepatitis C is now a curable disease with proactive treatment. Follow these steps to start your care journey.
If you suspect you have been exposed to Hepatitis C, get tested. Symptoms include jaundice, nausea, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. A doctor will test your blood for HCV antibodies.
If they are detected, then that means you have been exposed to Hepatitis C. However, the presence of the antibodies does not necessarily mean that the patient currently has Hepatitis C.
Similar to other infections, the presence of HCV simply means that, at some point, you were exposed to Hepatitis C. Consequently, after a patient receives a positive antibody test, the doctor will also run a nucleic acid test which detects RNA. If this test also comes back positive, then that means that the patient currently has Hep-C and is able to transmit it to other people.
Finding a doctor
A visit with your primary healthcare provider will lead into the right direction of finding a specialist.
Since Hepatitis-C mostly affects the liver, you will likely be referred to a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist. These specialists are more well-equipped to deal with infections of the liver.