Family, Internal Medicine, General Medical Questions/Hepatitis

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QUESTION: What exactly is Hepatitis C? I am told there is a whole alphabet of Hepatitises, but C is the one I hear most about. A friend of mine told me that she once had Hepatitis C, but after receiving some drugs for it was able to rid herself of it completely. Is Hepatitis C typically an STD? I think Pamela Anderson has had it for years and hasn't been cured of it. I didn't even know it was curable?

ANSWER: Hep C is yet another virus that damages the liver..... it follows, appropriately Hep A and Hep B.  Before we identified it, it was called non-A, non-B hepatitis.

It is spread primarily through blood contact, IV drug use, transfusions (prior to be able to test for it in the blood pool) and interestingly, intranasal (snorting) cocaine.    People stick a straw in the nose, snort coke, pass the straw (after scratching the inside of the nose)

It can be passed through sexual contact but is not that contagious through that method.

It damages the liver slowly, over decades and can cause liver failure, but can also inflame the liver and raise the risk of liver cancer.

Treatments are progressing rapidly, but are expensive, long and uncomfortable.  The treatments are getting better and experts say that 80% can be cured if they go through the full treatment which is typically a year.   

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QUESTION: I don't know how much time my friend spent on treatment or the level of comfort there was with it, but are the odds good that if at some point someone it tested for hep C and it shows up negative that they don't in fact still have it? My friend is kind of whimsical and into alternative medicine and I worry she makes claims about her health that might be not be completely certified. lol. Also recently she broke her wrist, but without insurance has decided to just let it heal even though a doctor told her she should have it rebroken so it can heal properly. I am not sure if there is a time frame for that, nor does she. Anyway also, are there obvious symtoms of hep C?

ANSWER: There are no symptoms until late in the disease and yes, it can be cured

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QUESTION: How often should one be tested for it, and how likely is it that if they test negative for it that they don't have it? I think with some diseases they can fool tests for quite sometime? How well can it be cured late in the disease?

Answer
you need to give me more info..... are you having sex with this person who may or may not have Hep C?  Do they definitely have it or have definitely gone thru treatment for it?   (Not alternative medicine treatment)   

It can be cured, but if there is already enough damage to the liver (late in the process) then you don't grow more liver...... if you hare having liver failure, the only option would be liver transplant.

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Robert Borucki

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I am an expert in Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine.

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I am trained and boarded in Family Medicine and have also worked extensively in emergency medicine for over 10 years.

BA in Natural Sciences; MD in 1986

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