The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is spread by direct contact with an infected person's blood. It is the most common blood-borne disease in the United States. The symptoms of the hepatitis C virus can be very similar to those of the hepatitis A and B viruses. However, infection with the hepatitis C virus can lead to chronic liver disease and is the leading reason for liver transplant in the United States. Although there is no vaccine for HCV, there is a new, safe and effective treatment for hepatitis C that can cure 95% of persons living with the virus.
What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C (Hep C or HCV) is a virus spread from one person to another through contact with blood of an infected person. It causes the liver to become inflamed. The virus cause permanent damage leading to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
What if I have hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C acts very slowly – most people don’t have any symptoms. Even without symptoms, liver conditions can develop 10 to 30+ years after being infected. That’s why people can have hepatitis C for decades without knowing it.
Can Hepatitis C be Cured?
Yes. New and improved treatments are available that can cure hepatitis C in 95% of people. Treatment is usually one pill a day for a few months. Even if you are cured, you can get infected again... There is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C.
Beginning summer of 2019, if you are a Louisiana Medicaid beneficiary or in Louisiana corrections, your treatment is covered at no cost to you!
What are the symptoms of hepatitis C?
Most people do not show symptoms, which is why people can go decades without knowing they are living with hepatitis C.
The symptoms of hepatitis C include weight loss, fatigue, poor appetite, fever, vomiting and occasionally joint pain, hives or rash.
Be Blood & Body Fluid Aware
Hepatitis C is transmitted when blood or other body fluids from a person living with hepatitis C enters the body of a person not living with hepatitis C.
- Sharing needles and other drug injection equipment (like cookers and cotton)
- Sexual activities that involve blood, such as anal sex or rough vaginal sex
- Perinatal, from birthing parent to baby at birth (about 5% risk; much higher if the mother is living with HIV)
- Body piercing or tattooing using unsterilized needles or shared inkwells
- Sharing objects that may contain traces of blood, like snorting straws, toothbrushes, razors, or manicure products
Hepatitis C can remain infectious in blood outside of the body for several days or weeks.
Who should get tested for hepatitis C?
You may be at risk for hepatitis C and should contact your health care provider for a blood test if you:
- Were born between 1945 and 1965 (Baby Boomer).
- Received donated blood or organs before 1992.
- Were notified that you received blood from a donor who later tested positive for hepatitis C.
- Have ever injected illegal drugs—even if it was only once or many years ago.
- Are on dialysis
- Are born to a parent living with hepatitis C.
- Have ever gotten a tattoo or piercing in a non-professional setting where equipment such as ink, inkwells or needles are re-used and potentially unsterilized.
- Have had multiple sexual partners, or sexual contact with an HCV-positive person.
What are Syringe Service Programs?
Syringe Service Programs are legal in some parishes in Louisiana. These programs offer free syringes and supplies, HIV and HCV testing, linkage to care, and other support services. Find a location here: https://www.louisianahealthhub.org/sexual-health-and-stds/hepatitis/syringe-service/
Reducing Injection-related HCV Risk
Most new hepatitis C infections are found among people with a history of drug injection, including people who have been incarcerated. Hepatitis C is easily transmitted among persons who inject drugs by sharing syringes or other injection equipment. Never share drug use equipment including: needles, syringes, cotton, rinse water, cookers, spoons, straws or pipes or any other drug use supplies. Always use a new sterile syringe. If you don’t have a sterile syringe, rinsing with either bleach or water is better than nothing. Research suggests that bleach is effective in neutralizing hepatitis C most of the time
Reducing Sexual HCV Risk
Condoms and lubrication during sex can reduce the risk of tearing/bleeding.
To learn more about Hepatitis C, please click on the following links:
- CDC Hepatitis C Information
- Louisiana Health Hub Hepatitis Information
- Louisiana Hepatitis Data
- Louisiana Department of Health Hepatitis C Dashboard
- Find Health Insurance
- Assistance for Medicaid
Helpline 877-HELP-4-HEP (877-435-7443)
9AM-7PM EST, Monday-Friday
This toll-free, confidential hepatitis C support line offers lots of help in just one call, or even over several contacts with a call-back service. HELP-4-HEP provides information at the pace you need, helps find local resources, and connects you to peer counselors who can help with your journey to better health. Run by The Support Partnership (five nonprofits experienced in helping people affected by hepatitis C).
Primary Contact Information
|Hepatitis Surveillance Supervisor: Lisa Chang
1450 Poydras Street, Ste. 2136
New Orleans, LA 70112
|Telephone: (504) 568-2714
Fax: (504) 568-8384
(All contact information is treated confidentially)