Do you know the risk factors for contracting Hepatitis C? Hepatitis C is a blood to blood transmitted virus that we can now cure at 95-99%. If you have any of the following risk factors, please ask your family to test you for Hepatitis C.
- Were you born between 1945-1975? The Canadian Liver Foundation suggests that anyone born between these years receive a simple Hepatitis C test
- Have you received a blood transfusion or blood products prior to 1990? This is a known risk factor for Hepatitis C as they did not know that the virus existed at that time and blood you received may have been tainted
- Have you ever injected or snorted drugs? Even using drugs once can put you at risk for being infected with Hepatitis C
- Was your Mother hepatitis C positive? There is a chance you could have been infected through birth. Although the chance is low (approximately 1%, it is not zero)
- Do you know if any of your sexual partners were hepatitis C positive? Have you had multiple sexual partners or high risk sexual behaviors? All of these situations can put you at risk for being infected with Hepatitis C
- Have you every received a home made tattoo or piercing? Hepatitis C blood can be found in a needle or other instruments used that have not been disinfected properly
- Have you ever had an accidental needle stick? If the person who was stuck with needle first is Hepatitis C positive, this could put you at risk for being infected after being stuck with their needle
- Have you received surgery, blood products, dental work or vaccines in a country with a high prevalence of Hepatitis C? Some countries with lower economic status do have a higher rate of Hepatitis C. If you think a country that you have received any of the above may be effected by Hepatitis C, please discuss with your Family Physician.
If you have even one of these risks factors or you have unexplained symptoms such as; fatigue, yellowing of your eyes, severe pain in the right side of your abdomen, ask your Family Doctor for a hepatitis C test. Hepatitis C can lead to cirrhosis of your liver and liver cancer when left untreated.
Jennifer Heipel has approximately 12 years of experience working as a hepatology nurse/clinical research coordinator for several gastroenterologists, hepatologists, infectious diseases and addiction specialists. She is trained in the treatment of Hepatitis B and C therapies as well as general hepatology and pre/post liver transplant follow up. Jennifer serves as Charlton Health’s full time Hepatology Nurse and manages the Hepatology Program. She has worked and continues to work with Dr. Puglia at McMaster University and other area Gastroenterologists to develop a comprehensive, in-house Hepatology program and Hepatitis C program here at Charlton Health.