How does it spread?
Hepatitis C is spread through the direct contact with infected blood. People who use intravenous drugs are at the greatest risk for contracting Hepatitis C because of the chance of the virus being present on already used needles or other drug equipment. Any tools in a medical setting or body art facility that come into contact with blood should be properly sterilized and/or disposed of. These places should follow up to date sanitary procedures and be operating under a license. Safe sex should always be practiced because Hepatitis C can be transmitted during rough sex or if blood is present.
Testing & Treatment
If you suspect you may have come into contact with Hepatitis C, an initial antibody test is done through blood work, taking 3-5 days for the results. A second blood test will be done to find out if the virus is currently present and to what extent. From here, a third blood test is performed if the individual would like to pursue treatment. Ultrasounds will be done to ensure the liver is at an optimal stage to accept treatment. Here in Lethbridge, a referral will be made to a liver specialist. Each individual specialist can create their own requirements that must be met before they provide treatment because it is 100% covered only ONCE in your lifetime through provincial health care and is very costly. There are 6 strains of Hepatitis C, and it is possible to have more than one at the same time. Strain 1 being the most harmful to your body, as well as the most costly and lengthy treatment. Strains 1 through 3 are the most common strains to acquire in North America, 3 through 6 being the most common in Europe.
Living with Hepatitis C
If infected, it is important to take special care of personal items that could have come in contact with blood, like toothbrushes and razors. Normally, being pregnant will not affect the course of Hepatitis C. There is approximately a 1 in 20 chance that you will pass Hepatitis C to your baby, but there is no need to do a Caesarian section. You may need antiviral medication after your baby is born, and baby will need to be tested for Hepatitis C at 18 months of age for accurate results. An individual seeking treatment or being treated for Hepatitis C should avoid alcohol and other substances, as well as maintain a healthy lifestyle (diet and exercise). Alcohol, drugs, and obesity can make Hepatitis C infection harder to treat.