The History of Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a disease affecting over 3 million people in the United States. This infection in the liver has many forms, with the most common being type 1. When was hepatitis discovered, how did it start and what are the best treatments for this disease? We’re answering all of your questions.


The Start of Hepatitis C


The hepatitis C virus was first discovered in 1989. However, studies have shown that this virus has been infecting humans for hundreds of years. Before hepatitis C was discovered, it was associated with blood transfusions and called non-A or non-B hepatitis because it was not identified.


Two years after this virus was identified, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drugs to treat hepatitis C, interferon alfa-2B. By 1998 the FDA approved the use of both interferon and ribavirin. Ribavirin is not effective when used alone. However, when combined with interferon, it becomes a very effective treatment for the virus.


As research continued on hepatitis C and its treatment, the FDA approved a rapid antibody test in 2010. This test was called OraQuick and was able to give patients the results within 20 minutes.


In 2013, the FDA approved new medications for this virus. These medications included sofosbuvir, sofosbuvir combined with ribavirin, and simeprevir. The drugs that are used can be determined by your doctor and since there are various types of Hepatitis C, the drugs used can vary by the patient.


Studies are continuously being performed in order to develop effective treatments for all those infected with Hepatitis C.


Symptoms and the Spread of Hepatitis C


Hepatitis C is a contagious disease that affects the liver. Some people with this virus have no symptoms and therefore, do not realize that they have it. However, you might notice some of the following symptoms if you are infected with this virus – jaundice, nausea, loss of appetite and fatigue.


Hepatitis C is spread through blood or bodily fluids. It can be transmitted through sharing needles, having unprotected sex or being stuck with an infected needle. It is important that you get tested for this disease if you have ever received infected blood, injected drugs, have HIV, or have had unprotected sex with an infected person.


Once you meet with your doctor he or she will give you a blood test to determine if you have the virus.


Treating Hepatitis C and the Long-Term Effects


As mentioned above there are many different treatment options for hepatitis C. The treatment decided by your doctor will be depend on what type of treatment you have. Once you have your treatment plan, you may have some side effects from the drugs. These can include flu-like symptoms, fatigue, hair loss, depression and low blood count.


Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is currently no vaccine to prevent this virus. In order to protect yourself against hepatitis C you should use a condom every time you have sex. If you get a tattoo or piercing, be sure that the needles used have not been used on anyone else. Also, do not donate blood if you are infected with the virus.



Dangers of Untreated Hepatitis C


Since most people do not know they have hepatitis C, they cannot be treated for this virus. 75 to 85 percent of people infected with hepatitis C are not able to get rid of it from the body and can develop chronic hepatitis. This can lead to problems with the liver, such as cirrhosis.


Untreated hepatitis C can also lead to scarring of the liver and can increase your risk of liver cancer. In addition to problems with the liver, untreated hepatitis C can also cause toxins to build up in the brain causing confusion, fatigue and disorientation. You are also more likely to develop arthritis in your joints and have an increase in bone tissue.


You may also experience problems with your kidneys and pancreas. Your kidneys can become inflamed and if left untreated can cause them to shut down. Hepatitis C has also been found to cause type 2 diabetes. It can increase the body’s insulin resistance and cause blood sugar problems.


Overall, treating hepatitis C is crucial to your health. There are always new treatment options available, so you want to seek these options immediately. If you feel that you have come in contact with the virus or are at risk of getting hepatitis C or another sexually transmitted infection, it is important to speak with your doctor right away. He or she can get you tested and if you test positive, start your treatments right away.


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