Around 4 million people in the US have hepatitis C, which is, basically, a disease triggered by a virus. This infection is contracted through contact with blood which is already infected. Thus, through proper safety measures, people can successfully keep hepatitis C at bay.
What is Hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C is, as it was mentioned above, a viral disease. Once a person gets infected by a virus called hepatitis C virus or, short, HCV, he/she starts experiencing the symptoms. This condition can be very serious for some individuals. On the other hand, some people deal with hepatitis C with no significant problems.
Yet, most commonly, once you contract HCV, it stays in your body for the rest of your life. In this case, the virus will probably damage your liver, even though the condition may be asymptomatic. In cases of liver damage, liver cirrhosis and liver failure are the most common scenarios.
Keep in mind that only a microscopic dose of infected blood is more than necessary for you to get hepatitis C. Thus, even though you cannot see the infected blood around the equipment you use, it might be there if you are not paying attention to proper hygiene.
Preventing Hepatitis C
Since the main way of getting exposed to hepatitis C is through sharing needles with an infected person, the main culprits for this disease are drug addicts. Therefore, the best possible way of prevention would involve staying away from drugs which are injected, especially street drugs. Yet, if you are already injecting these into your body, do your best to find a good rehabilitation program and stop. If stopping is something you cannot achieve, make sure you never share syringes or needles and never reuse your own.
Since getting a tattoo or body piercing involves needles too, be careful. If the ink is contaminated, you might easily end up with HCV infection. Thus, choose tattoo and piercing parlors which practice highest levels of hygiene.
Razors, toothbrushes and other personal belongings of this type may contain other people's blood, use only the items which belong to you and do not share them with others.
Since hepatitis C can also be transferred through sexual intercourse, concentrate on having protected sex with a single partner who only has sex with you too. Use condoms during every intercourse, keeping both you and your partner safe.
Today, in Australia, more than 264,000 people are living with hepatitis C, most of them due to drug use. Out of 9,700 people who contracted the virus during 2005, 88.6% of them were infected through injecting. The Australian government and public health responded to this state of affairs through programs which educate people and tell them more about the importance of hygiene and prevention of blood-borne diseases.
Thus, changes need to be made in order to raise the level of social awareness regarding this problem. However, no human being should be marginalized or exposed to social stigmatization due to this messaging and information sharing processes.
Other Helpful Ways of Preventing Hepatitis C
First and foremost, rest assured that this virus cannot be contracted through breast feeding, sneezing, hugging, coughing, spoon, drinking glass or fork sharing. Also, sharing food with someone who is infected with hepatitis C will not spread the infection on you and neither will any form of social contact.
However, if you have undergone blood transfusion or organ transplantation before July 1992, you might have hepatitis C. Also, if you are informed that the blood you got through transfusion might have been infected with the HCV virus, seek medical assistance and have this problem ruled out. Of course, if you are using street drugs, have yourself checked medically. Do the same, even if you have used drugs only once or twice, years ago. Finally, if you have undergone kidney dialysis over a longer course of time, ask your doctor to rule out hepatitis C.
Living with Hepatitis C
Living with this virus may seem hard, since many individuals in this situation consider themselves infectious. Fortunately, proper support and care will allow you to overcome this state of mind. Yet, for this step, you will need a good doctor.
Find a doctor who is an experienced expert on hepatitis C, knowing the disease well. Then, undergo regular check-ups. Keep in mind that your ideal doctor should ask you to sit with him/her for at least 30 minutes, explaining all about this condition. Thus, if a doctor is done with you in less that 15 minutes, find another one.
Additionally, do your best to learn as much as you can about your condition. Educate yourself about your disease and all possible ways of treatment. Nevertheless, make sure you use proper sources of information. So, joining a support group may be a good step to take, opening doors to all the knowledge you need.
All in all, hepatitis C can both be prevented and maintained throughout your life. All you need is proper hygiene and adequate amount of knowledge on the matter. It may seem as a harsh disease. But, as long as you are careful, you can live with it or have it cured.