The Importance of Hepatitis C Testing
It can be dangerous to assume you don’t need to be tested for hepatitis C, either because you do not have symptoms or risk factors, or because you lack of medical insurance.
Hep C testing and early intervention with improved treatment can mean being cured, preventing further liver damage from occurring. Without treatment, hepatitis C will continue to get worse. Without treatment, hep C can lead to cirrhosis (severe liver damage), high risk for liver cancer, and possible liver transplant or death. The liver performs vital life-sustaining functions. You can not live without your liver.
The myth of no symptoms
Hepatitis C is known as the “silent disease” because generally, symptoms do not appear for a long time, even though liver damage is being done. Many people have no idea they have hepatitis C until years later.
Even if someone knows they have hepatitis C, without symptoms, people may have a false sense of security, thinking they have time or that hepatitis C is not affecting them. Even with no symptoms, liver damage can occur. Don’t forget about hepatitis C, because hepatitis C does not forget about you.
The myth of no risk factors
People may assume they don’t have risk factors, therefore there is no need to be tested. Many people may never know how they contracted hepatitis C and shocked to find out they have it. There are many ways hepatitis C is transmitted. In the news, it is most often reported to be an infection contracted by drug use. Though this is a common risk factor, it is NOT the only way hepatitis C is transmitted. Regardless of risk factors, being tested is the only proactive way to know if you have hepatitis C.
The myth of misinformation
People may assume if they have had hepatitis C in the past (either in the acute phase or chronic hep C that was treated successfully and cured), they can’t get hepatitis C again. This is false. A person can still be re-infected with hep C, even if they've had hepatitis C before, if they're re-exposed. Like anyone else, people with hepatitis C can also develop a co-infection with another condition, like HIV or hepatitis B, if exposed.
Testing is the only safe way to know. Testing provides you with information to take care of yourself and seek treatment to eliminate the virus. Be smart. Get tested. Seek treatment. Get cured.
Did you experience early symptoms or warning signs of hep C?