By: Shuntrice Hannah
Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is difficult for the human immune system to eliminate the virus from the body, and infection with HCV usually becomes chronic. Over decades, chronic infection with HCV damages the liver and can cause liver failure in some people. The hepatitis C virus is transmitted mainly by contact with blood or blood products. The Sharing of contaminated needles among drug users is the most common mode of transmission. In the U.S., more than three million people are chronically infected with HCV. HCV is the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S and is a risk factor for liver cancer.
Hepatitis C was first identified in 1974. The virus that caused disease was not found until
1989 by Brendan Arena. The infection is sometimes called "transfusion hepatitis." The name
comes from one possible cause of the disease. It may be transmitted along with blood used
in blood transfusions. Since the identification of HCV, tests have been developed to identify the virus.
Blood transfusions are no longer a major cause of the disease. Hepatitis C is a disease
of the liver caused by a virus. Hepatitis in general is an inflammation of the liver, usually caused
by a viral infection. The liver becomes tender and enlarged and is unable to function normally,
As a result, toxins that would normally be filtered out by the liver build up in the body and
certain nutrients are not processed and stored, as they should be. Hepatitis C is a slowly
progressing disorder. In its more advanced stages it can lead to serious and permanent liver
damage and even death.
The symptoms of Hepatitis C are often very mild in the early stages and can be virtually
undetectable. Hepatitis C infection involves an acute initial phase of infection which is usually
not noticed and lasts up to six months. During this phase, levels of the virus in the blood rise
dramatically until the body's immune response starts producing antibodies. Although our
antibodies fight the virus, in around 75% of cases the virus is not eliminated and
approximately three out of four people are left with a chronic (long-term) infection A.
Hepatitis infection can result in liver damage because as the virus reproduces in the liver over
time, more and more liver cells are changed and destroyed causing scar tissue. This is called
fibrosis. In a small percentage of people experiencing cirrhosis, Fibrosis can lead to a hardening
of liver tissue which affects the normal function of the liver, this is called cirrhosis In a small
percentage of people experiencing cirrhosis, the condition may lead to liver failure or liver
cancer. Hepatitis C affects people differently. Some are not affected by it at all, while others can
be affected seriously.
Generally speaking, it is believed that around three out of four people with hepatitis C will
not go on to develop cirrhosis. Over a 25-50 year period of infection, it is believed that less than
one in ten people with hepatitis C would develop liver failure or liver cancer. 170 million people
worldwide have Hepatitis C There is no cure for hepatitis C, but medications in some cases can
suppress the virus for a long period of time.
Some patients with hepatitis C benefit from treatment with interferon alpha or a combination of
sustained response rates and tolerability; however, pegylated interferon will likely
remain the backbone of therapy in the foreseeable future. international research teams have
discovered a genetic variation that could identify those people infected with hepatitis C who are
most likely to benefit from current...