Travis F. Shoffner
American Military University
This research paper looks at the infectious disease hepatitis C. The research draws upon primary sources including medical websites and electronic newspaper articles. The goal is to inform and describe the disease, cite current infections and death statistics related to it. The paper will also explain how the disease affects the body and discuss current and future treatment options. This research will provide valuable information regarding the affect hepatitis C has on the population today.
Hepatitis C is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the hepatitis C virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting only a few days or a few weeks to a very serious illness that can last a lifetime. The three different strains of hepatitis: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are diseases caused by three separate viruses. Although each of the diseases can cause similar symptoms, they each have different modes of infection and can affect the liver in different ways. Hepatitis C begins as acute infection, but in some people, the virus will remain in the infected person’s body resulting in a disease that can lead long term liver issues. There are vaccines to help prevent hepatitis A and B; however, there are not any vaccines to prevent a hepatitis C infection. If a person has had one type of viral hepatitis in the past, they are not immune to the other strains of the disease and it is still possible to be infected by a different type of hepatitis. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. It is one of the most common viruses that can infect the liver. According to Centers for Disease Control statistics, most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. “Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants” ("Hepatitis c information," 2012). Although these are the most common ways for a person to be infected, there are several other ways people can become infected with the hepatitis C virus. For instance: needle stick injuries in health care settings, being born to a mother who has hepatitis C, sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood such as razors or toothbrushes, or having sexual contact with a person infected with the hepatitis C virus ("Hepatitis c information," 2012). The incubation period for the virus is 2 weeks to 6 months. Following the initial infection of the virus, approximately 80% of people do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease at all. On the other hand,” those who are acutely symptomatic may exhibit fever, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, grey-colored feces, joint pain and jaundice which is a yellowing of skin and the whites of the eyes” ("Hepatitis c," 2013). Every year, 3 to 4 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus. About 150 million people are chronically infected with the disease and at risk of developing liver cirrhosis and/or liver cancer because of it. All over the world, more than 350,000 people die from hepatitis C related liver diseases every year ("Hepatitis c," 2013). According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hepatitis C deaths are on the rise. The report found baby boomers are especially at risk because they account for two-thirds of all hepatitis C cases ("Hepatitis c: Expansion," 2012). According to a CBS news report, this news has prompted health officials to wonder whether anyone born between 1945 and 1965 should get a blood test for hepatitis C, because many of these “baby boomers” may have had the disease for decades without...
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Hepatitis c. (2013, July). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs164/en/
Hepatitis c: Expansion of testing recommendations, 2012. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/docs/HCV-Testing-Recs.pdf
Hepatitis c death rates rise, 1 in 33 baby boomers has disease. (2012, February 12). Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hepatitis-c-death-rates-rise-1-in-33-baby-boomers-has-disease/
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Pollack, A. (2013, December 6). F.d.a. approves pill to treat hepatitis c. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/07/business/fda-approves-pill-to-treat-hepatitis-c.html?_r=2&
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