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Steps to Prevent Hepatitis B and Screening for Hepatitis C

Hepatitis B and C viruses are spread through contact with the blood or bodily fluids of a person with the virus. While there is a vaccine for Hepatitis B it is important to remember that there is no vaccine for Hepatitis C.

The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting vaccinated. The World Health Organization recommends at least 3 doses of Hepatitis B vaccine for all infants with the first dose given within 24 hours of birth followed by 2 or 3 additional doses later.

Prevention of Hepatitis B

All children should get the hepatitis B vaccine. Babies should get a first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth. They should have all three shots in the series by age 6 to 18 months.

Infants born to mothers who have Acute Hepatitis B or have had the infection in the past should get a special Hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. Children younger than age 19 who have not had the vaccine should get “catch-up” doses.

Adults at risk of Hepatitis B should also be vaccinated. This includes: Health care workers and those who live with someone who has hepatitis B and people with end-stage kidney disease, chronic liver disease, or HIV infection.

It is always important to practice safe sex and know your partner’s sexual history.

Screening of Hepatitis C

The US preventive task force recommends that each adult age 18-79 should be screened for hepatitis C at least once. Screening of all donated blood has reduced the chance of getting hepatitis B and C from a blood transfusion. An HCV antibody test is used to screen for past exposure and current infection. It detects the presence of antibodies to the virus in your blood that is produced by the immune system in response to infection. This test cannot distinguish whether you have an active or a previous HCV infection.

Blood banks in the United States voluntarily began testing donations for anti-HBc and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in 1986 and 1987 and for anti-HCV in 1990.

Routine periodic testing for persons with ongoing risk factors, while risk factors persist: Persons who inject drugs and share needles, syringes, or other drug preparation equipment. Persons with selected medical conditions, including persons who received maintenance and hemodialysis.

Screening for hepatitis A involves a blood test that detects antibodies produced by a person’s immune system to fight the virus. A positive test result means the person is currently infected, has been infected, or has been vaccinated against infection and is immune to infection.

Get tested early

Getting tested and treated early can stop the hepatitis C virus from triggering cirrhosis or cancer. Your doctor will be able to keep an eye out for signs of liver trouble. They can start treatment before serious damage starts.

As far as viruses go, hepatitis C is among the sneakiest. Once it’s in your blood, it travels to your liver, where it may settle in for a silent, long-term stay. This can lead to cancer or cause the organ to fail if you don’t treat it. In fact, Hepatitis C is the top reason for liver transplants in the U.S.

These are important notes to remember:

  1. You can have the disease even if you feel fine
  2. The test is quick and easy. A simple blood test can tell if you’ve ever had the virus. The results usually come back in a few days.
  3. You can protect your family and friends. You can pass the Hepatitis C virus to others through your blood, even if you don’t have any symptoms. To prevent this, cover wounds carefully and avoid sharing razors, nail clippers, toothbrushes, or diabetes supplies. Hepatitis C doesn’t spread through kissing, coughing, sneezing, or sharing eating utensils. Although it’s uncommon, you can get it from unprotected sex.
  4. Treatments can suppress or even wipe out the virus. Hepatitis C is treated with a combination of medications called antivirals. For many people, they get rid of the virus completely.
  5. Early treatment can help you prevent liver cancer or liver failure

Getting tested and treated early can stop the hepatitis C virus from triggering cirrhosis or cancer. Your doctor will be able to keep an eye out for signs of liver trouble. They can start treatment before serious damage starts.