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Hepatitis C is a viral infection that can cause damage to the liver. In chronic infection it causes scarring ( fibrosis) of the liver which can affect its function and might eventually lead to cirrhosis, liver failure or cancer.
Hepatitis C Risks
- Blood exposure
- Sharing needles and drug equipment
- Unprotected anal sex and fisting, possibly because there might be more exposure to blood this way.
Hepatitis C Symptoms
- None or very mild symptoms after initial infection, so it is easily missed
Hepatitis C Diagnosis
- If at risk the only way to tell if you have been infected is by regular screening
- Hepatitis C antibody test/ liver function tests
- We offer an early detection test that is highly accurate at detecting infection, from as early as 10 days post contact
- Guidelines recommend follow up screening at 3 months.
Some people will clear the infection spontaneously after a few months. It is however possible to get reinfected with the same or a different strain. The most common strain of Hepatitis C is genotype 1, which unfortunately is the hardest to treat. For those who do not clear the virus, they will go on to develop a chronic Hepatitis C infection.
Until recently the only way to see how much damage has been done to the liver was through taking a liver biopsy. This procedure can be uncomfortable and doesn’t come without its risks. However other options are now available that are just as accurate at diagnosing the level of scarring in the liver. One of these, is fibroscan, which is a painless non invasive ultrasound scan. We can refer you for this if necessary. We can also perform an enhanced liver fibrosis blood test and the two tests combined, will give a very accurate reflection of the state of the liver.
Hepatitis C Treatment
The treatment of Hepatitis C has changed drastically in recent years with the advent of direct acting antivirals and will continue to do so. They are becoming ever more effective at curing Hepatitis C with less toxic drugs and over a shorter period of time, so it’s well worth having a discussion with your doctor as there are now treatments available that can cure this disease.
I have over 14 years experience providing sexual health screening and I offer a completely confidential, professional, non judgemental service from start to end. If you are not sure if you have been at risk, then I offer a normal consultation to discuss the possible risks and whether screening would be appropriate. We discuss and agree all costs beforehand so you know exactly where you stand and I will always provide you with clear and accurate advice based on current British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH )guidelines.