Hepatitis translates to inflammation of the liver. There are numerous strains, such as A, B, C, D and E, all of which affect the liver, but are transmitted differently. Information in this section will discuss Hepatitis C. For further information on Hepatitis in general, or specific types not mentioned see the links below.
Hepatitis C is not vaccine preventable. It is considered a blood borne infection as it lives in human blood and is transmitted through “blood to blood contact”. The only way to know if you have hepatitis is to have it confirmed with a blood test.
Once transmitted, it infects the liver which is a very important organ in the human body. The liver, acts as the bodies filtration system, by helping the body clean out toxins, break down medications, fight infections, regulates blood sugar, and store vitamins. You simply cannot live without it. Check out Catie.ca for more info.
About 1 in 4 people clear hepatitis C without treatment. However, the other 3 out of 4 people require treatment; most are cured through treatment (Source). Hepatitis C can progress to a chronic infection without treatment, which can lead to further health complications such as cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure.
Hepatitis C is spread through blood to blood contact. Meaning blood containing Hepatitis C needs to get into the blood stream of another individual through broken skin in order for it to be transmitted.
Some ways this can happen:
- Unsafe body modification (tattoos, piercings, scarification)
- Mother to child transmission
- Unsafe first aid
- Blood transfusion before 1992
- Unsafe sex (including oral sex)
- Sharing substance use equipment (needles, snorting straws, etc.)
Check out Catie.ca for an in-depth look at high-risk, some-risk, and low-risk activities.
Complete this Online Quiz from the Canadian Liver Foundation to see if you are at risk of having Hepatitis!
Often times, people may have no symptoms at all. However overtime symptoms can develop such as:
- Muscle Pain
- Joint Pain
- Itchy Skin
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)
A blood test is needed in order to diagnose Hepatitis C. The initial test looks for presence of Hepatitis anti-bodies which, if positive means the person has been in contact with Hep C sometime before. However, a small percentage of people rid of the virus on their own, therefore another test known as the Hepatitis C Virus test, will be ordered to determine if the person is still infected with Hepatitis C.
In Grande Prairie this flow chart can be referenced to seek out Hep C support
To learn more about Hepatitis C take this Free Online Course offered from the Canadian liver foundation in partnership with the bc center for disease control, or see our resources listed below