Hepatitis C Definition, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention
Hepatitis C is most often acquired through intravenous drug use; sexual contact; hemodialysis; or household, occupational, or perinatal exposure.
Chronic hepatitis as a consequence of HCV has reached epidemic proportions worldwide.
Patients with acute hepatitis C are often asymptomatic. The clinical course is generally mild with less than 25% of patients developing malaise, anorexia, and jaundice.
Serum transaminase values are elevated within 4 to 12 weeks after exposure.
Seventy percent of cases eventually develop chronic hepatitis.
Ten percent to 30% of patients with HCV infection develop cirrhosis, 1% to 5% develop hepatocellular carcinoma.
Treatment of Hepatitis C :
- The goal of treating HCV is to return the individual to the previous state of health and prevent development of chronic infection, which can lead to morbidity and mortality from end-stage liver disease.
- Management of acute HCV is primarily supportive. General measures include a healthy diet, rest, maintenance of fluid balance, and avoidance of hepatotoxic drugs and alcohol.
- Patients seropositive for HCV with elevated ALT and inflammation on liver biopsy are candidates for antiviral therapy.
- First-line treatment for acute HCV includes pegylated interferon plus ribavirin. The dosing regimen varies with the specific product and the duration of therapy varies with the product and HCV genotype.
Prevention of Hepatitis C :
- No HCV vaccine is currently available.
- Current recommendations for prevention of HCV include universal precautions for the prevention of blood-borne infections and anti-HCV screening of blood, organ, and tissue donors.