Life-Saving Steps with Hepatitis C
Last updated: August 2020
Three of the most important, even life-saving, steps you’ll ever take against hepatitis C are getting tested, getting treatment, and getting cured. Even if a person doesn't have any hep C risk factors, it's still possible to be living with hep C with no symptoms.
Hepatitis C is known as "the silent killer" because symptoms don’t often show up until significant liver damage is done. The hepatitis C virus can live dormant in the body for years before becoming active. You may never know when it becomes active. Once the virus is active, it is doing liver damage and compromising your health. Getting tested is a proactive step you can take. Early diagnosis can help save your life.
Symptoms can mask as general ill health, or mild flu-like symptoms with low energy, then later escalate to more severe symptoms. Early diagnosis helps reduce your risk of liver damage and other associated conditions like cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver transplant.
Step 1: Get tested
Getting tested is an important first step. Even if you don’t have risk factors, many people without risk factors are shocked to learn they have hepatitis C. Be safe, don’t wait, get tested. Don’t assume your doctor or hospital has tested you for hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is not part of routine annual tests with your primary doctor; You usually have to ask to be tested.
Step 2: Get treated
There are a variety of treatment options available for all genotypes (virus strains) and liver conditions. Standard treatment time can be in as little as 8 weeks or 12 weeks for most treatments. This is a short time compared to the rest of your life!
If you don’t have medical insurance or if you need help with co-pays, there are patient assistance programs you can apply for help. Don’t assume you don’t have any options to get treatment.
Step 3: Get cured
Never give up until you receive the cure. Treatment cure rates are over 95% percent for most treatments. Even if you have done treatment in the past that was not successful, keep moving forward with another treatment until you receive the cure. The goal is to eliminate the hepatitis C virus from the body and prevent further liver damage from occurring.
Get vaccinated for Hep A & B
There is a vaccine for hepatitis A and B, but there is no vaccine for hepatitis C (due to the virus mutates and changes in the body rapidly). Hepatitis C is more difficult to fight than hep A and B.
Early diagnosis and treatment can help save your life.