How does curing hepatitis C lower a person’s risk of death?
A person’s risk of death is related to hepatitis C both because the virus can cause damage that leads to death and because the virus can compromise the immune system, which opens the body up to other infections and illnesses that cause death. This information will continue to change, as new medications and treatment options are introduced regularly, which can impact the ways the ways in which the body processes hepatitis C and other illnesses. At present, some research estimates that the risk of death drops 60% after hepatitis C is cured.
How does curing hepatitis C lower a person’s risk of kidney disease?
Hepatitis C infection is both a cause and it can be a complication of chronic kidney disease, occurring most often in the context of mixed cryoglobulinemia. Hepatitis C infections are associated with many extra-hepatic manifestations that occur in various organs, which include the kidneys. Hemodialysis which is used to aid the body when it is in end stage renal disease can be known for carrying a risk for a hepatitis C infection. In addition, hepatitis C often causes more severe form of kidney disease than in those with kidney illness who do not have hepatitis C. Plus, the treatment of hepatitis C when it is in end stage renal failure is problematic. This is because patients using conventional or pegylated interferon with or without ribavirin typically have a low response rate, as well as a high dropout rate due to a lack of being able to tolerate the medication or the medication’s side effects. In the cases of those needing a kidney transplant due to severe kidney disease, having hepatitis C can complicate the transplant experience, as this may cause delays in being placed on the donor list and side effects of hepatitis C medication can further exacerbate the symptoms of kidney disease. Some research estimates that the risk of kidney disease drops 65% after hepatitis C is cured.
How does curing hepatitis C lower a person’s risk of HIV?
A person with hepatitis C has a virus within their body. This virus requires the resources of the body’s immune system in order to constantly fight the virus. Over time, the stress on the body can lead to a person being immunocompromised. When this occurs, it is because one or more areas of the immune system are weakened. This makes them less effective. If a person is exposed to HIV during this time, they may be more likely to become infected because their body is not as strong, due to its resources being spent on the hepatitis C virus. Having HIV more than triples the risk for liver disease, liver failure, and liver-related death from hepatitis C. The Center for Disease Control reports that about 25% of United States residents who are currently living with HIV also have a hepatitis C infection, and about 80% of people with HIV who are also identify as intravenous drug users have hepatitis C. It is estimated that 300,000 people are currently living with both viruses in the United States. When the hepatitis C virus is removed from the body, the body’s immune system is able to recover and to be prepared to fight off any other infection it may be exposed to, including HIV, which can lead to prevention of infection. For those already infected with HIV, the curing of hepatitis C can allow the body to focus more of its energy on minimizing HIV and the impact of HIV medication side effects.
Does curing hepatitis C lower a person’s risk for other illnesses?
Although there are not current statistics on which illnesses become less of a risk if a person no longer has hepatitis C, the overall belief is that a healthier body overall leads to a decreased risk of illness. For some people, this means eating healthier in order to provide proper nutrients for organ function. For other people, this means losing weight or exercising more in order to keep the body healthy. For everyone, removing the hepatitis C virus from the body means removing a cause of stress and of infection from within the body. Just as the removal of emotional stress or turmoil can bring a person happiness, curing hepatitis C can allow the body to focus on healing itself and on avoiding other illnesses. If you have specific questions on how curing hepatitis C will benefit your own body, you can always contact your doctor to discuss your medical history and the ways in which your body can benefit from being hepatitis C free.1-6
Azmi, A. (2015). Hepatitis C and kidney disease: An overview and approach to management. WJH, 7(1), 78. http://dx.doi.org/10.4254/wjh.v7.i1.78
Fabrizi, F., Messa, P., & Martin, P. (2014). The Unravelled Link between Chronic Kidney Disease and Hepatitis C Infection. New Journal Of Science, 2014, 1-9. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/180203
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