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Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Antibody

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Hepatitis C is a type of liver-related virus that often infects a person for life. While the virus can cause little or no symptoms, significant liver damage is often caused by the virus whether or not symptoms are present. The Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Antibody test gives sufferers a chance to seek treatment before complications occur.

About Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a form of the liver-related viruses that are known as hepatitis. People who are infected with the virus may never be aware of the infection because symptoms can be mild and short term in nature. However, a long term case of hepatitis C has the potential to cause significant damage to the liver.

The most common way that hepatitis C is transmitted is through the sharing of needles. While the virus may be transmitted through sexual contact or during childbirth, it is rare for hepatitis C to be spread through any means other than direct contact with infected blood.

Healthcare workers are at an increased risk of contracting hepatitis C because of exposure to infected blood. People who have a compromised immune system are more likely to develop a chronic case of the virus that can result in serious complications when the virus attacks the liver for a prolonged period of time.

Symptoms of Hepatitis C

Many people with an acute case of hepatitis C will not experience any symptoms of the virus. Mild symptoms associated with hepatitis C include fatigue, fever, nausea, dark urine and joint pain. People who have a short term case of the virus often mistake their symptoms for another illness and recover with no lasting health issues. Acute hepatitis C can take as long as six months from the date of infection to produce symptoms.

Chronic hepatitis C frequently causes no symptoms for several years. The lack of signs or symptoms of the virus may lead to severe liver damage that goes undetected. People who have chronic hepatitis C with no symptoms often learn about the infection when they experience a complication such as cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure.

Advanced cases of chronic hepatitis C can cause symptoms including confusion, dizziness or coma. Detecting the virus early is essential to prevent serious complications from occurring.

Prevalence of Hepatitis C in the United States

Unlike other forms of hepatitis, chronic cases of hepatitis C are more common than acute cases of the virus. About 16,000 people are diagnosed with an acute case of hepatitis C in the U.S. each year. This number may represent a much lower figure than the actual cases of the virus because of the mild, flu-like symptoms associate with acute hepatitis C.

Over three million people in the U.S. are living with a chronic case of hepatitis C. Many more people may be unaware of a chronic infection of the virus because it takes so long for symptoms or complications to surface. Approximately 80 percent of all hepatitis C infections are chronic in nature.

Benefits of the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Antibody Test

Chronic hepatitis C has the potential to silently cause significant liver damage. Since this damage can be life-threatening in nature, it is important for anyone who is exposed to the disease to be tested. Treatment options are available to reduce the risk of complications.

Anyone who suspects that they were exposed to the virus should consider ordering the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Antibody test. The results can offer peace of mind and prevent the spread of the infection by keeping people who are infected with hepatitis C aware of the need to be cautious.

People who have hepatitis C antibodies present in their blood have the ability to be proactive about protecting their personal health. Treatment options including antiviral medications are available for chronic cases of the virus, and a person who discovers that they have the virus can be regularly monitored for liver damage before irreversible damage is done.